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Full text of "Caybigan"

THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 
OF CALIFORNIA 

GIFT OF 

Class of 1900 



CAYBIGAN 




The subsequent walk across the plaza with the hard-won 
bundle, beneath the appreciative eyes of the 
whole town, had been humiliating " 



Cay bigan 



BY 



JAMES HOPPER 




NEW YORK 

McCLURE, PHILLIPS & CO. 
MCMVI 



Copyright, 1906, by 
McCLURE, PHILLIPS & CO. 

Published, September, 1906 



Copyright, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, by The S. S. McClure Company 



CONTENTS 



I. THE JUDGMENT OF MAN ....... 3 

II. THE MAESTRO OF BALANGILANG ..... 27 

III. HER READING .......... 52 

IV. THE STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPH OF 

IsiDRO DE LOS MAESTROS ..... 74 

V. THE FAILURE .......... 98 

VI. SOME BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION. . . . .124. 

VII. A JEST OF THE GODS ....... 153 

VIII. THE COMING OF THE MAESTRA ..... 178 

IX. CAYBIGAN ........... 202 

X. THE CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO ..... 226 

XL THE MANANGETE ......... 257 

XII. THE PAST ......... . . 267 

XIII. THE PREROGATIVE ......... 277 

XIV. THE CONFLUENCE ......... 289 

XV. THE CALL =331 



CAYBIGAN 






THE JUDGMENT OF MAN 

were sitting around the big centre table in the 
sala of the " House of Guests " in Ilo-Ilo. We were 
teachers from Occidental Negros. It was near Christ 
mas ; we had left our stations for the holidays the 
cholera had just swept them and the aftermath was 
not pleasant to contemplate and so we were leaning 
over the polished narra table, sipping a sweet, false 
Spanish wine from which we drew, not a convivial 
spirit, but rather a quiet, reflective gloom. All the 
shell shutters were drawn back ; we could see the tin- 
roofed city gleam and crackle with the heat, and 
beyond the lithe line of coconuts, the iridescent sea. 
tugging the heart with offer of coolness. But, all of 
us, we knew the promise to be Fake, monumental Fake, 
knew the alluring depths to be hot as corruption, and 
full of sharks. 

Somebody in a monotonous voice was cataloguing 
the dead, enumerating those of us who had been con 
quered by the climate, by the work, or through their 
own inward flaws. He mentioned Miller with some 



# GAYBIGAN 

sort of disparaging gesture, and then Carter of 
Balangilang, who had been very silent, suddenly 
burst into speech with singular fury. 

"Who are you, to judge him?" he shouted. 
"Who are you, eh? Who are we, any way ? to judge 
him?" 

Headlong outbursts from Carter were nothing new 
to us, so we took no offence. Finally someone said, 
" Well, he s dead," with that tone that signifies final 
judgment, the last, best, most charitable thing which 
can be said of the man being weighed. 

But Carter did not stop there. " You didn t know 
him, did you ? " he asked. " You didn t know him ; 
tell me now, did you know him? " He was still extra 
ordinarily angry. 

We did not answer. Really, we knew little of the 
dead man excepting that he was mean and small, 
and not worth knowing. He was mean, and he was a 
coward ; and to us in our uncompromising youth these 
were just the unpardonable sins. Because of that we 
had left him alone, yes, come to think of it, very much 
alone. And we knew little about him. 

" Here, I ll tell you what I know," Carter began 
again, in a more conciliatory tone ; " I ll tell you 
everything I know of him." He lit a cheroot. 

" I first met him right here in Ilo-Ilo. I had crossed 
over for supplies ; he was fresh from Manila and 



THE JUDGMENT OF MAN 5 

wanted to get over to Bacolod to report to the Sup. 
and be assigned to his station. When I saw him he 
was on the muelle, surrounded by an army of bluffing 
cargadores. About twelve of them had managed to 
get a finger upon his lone carpet-bag while it was 
being carried down the gang-plank, and each and all 
of them wanted to get paid for the job. He was in a 
horrible pickle; couldn t speak a word of Spanish or 
Visayan. And the first thing he said when I had 
extricated him, thanks to my vituperative knowledge 
of these sweet tongues, was : If them niggahs, seh, 
think Ah m a-goin to learn their cussed lingo, they re 
mahtily mistaken, seh ! 

" After that remark, coming straight from the 
heart, I hardly needed to be told that he was from 
the South. He was from Mississippi. He was gaunt, 
yellow, malarial, and slovenly. He had c teached for 
twenty years, he said, but in spite of this there was 
about him something indescribably rural, something 
of the sod not the dignity, the sturdiness of it, but 
rather of the pettiness, the sordidness of it. It showed 
in his dirty, flapping garments, his unlaced shoes, 
his stubble beard, in his indecent carelessness in 
expectorating the tobacco he was ceaselessly chewing. 
But these, after all, were some of his minor traits. 
I was soon to get an inkling of one of his major ones 
his prodigious meanness. For when I rushed about 



6 CAYBIGAN 

and finally found a lorcha that was to sail for Bacolod 
and asked him to chip in with me on provisions, he 
demurred. 

" Ah d like to git my own, seh, he said in that 
decisive drawl of his. 

" All right, I said cheerfully, and went off and 
stocked up for two. My instinct served me well. 
When, that evening, Miller walked up the gang 
plank, he carried only his carpet-bag, and that was 
flat and hungry-looking as before. The next morning 
he shared my provisions calmly and resolutely, with 
an air, almost, of conscious duty. Well, let that go ; 
before another day I was face to face with his other 
flaming characteristic* 

" Out of Ilo-Ilo we had contrary winds at first ; 
all night the lorcha an old grandmother of a craft, 
full of dry-rot spots as big as woodpeckers nests 
flapped heavily about on impotent tacks, and when 
the sun rose we found ourselves on the same spot from 
which we had watched its setting. Toward ten o clock, 
however, the monsoon veered, and wing-and-wing the 
old boat, creaking in every joint as if she had the 
dengue, grunted her way over flashing combers with 
a speed that seemed almost indecent. Then, just as 
we were getting near enough to catch the heated 
glitter of the Bacolod church-dome, to see the golden 
thread of breach at the foot of the waving coconuts. 



THE JUDGMENT OF MAN 7 

the wind fell, slap-bang, as suddenly as if God had 
said hush and we stuck there, motionless, upon a 
petrified sea. 

" I didn t stamp about and foam at the mouth ; 
I d been in these climes too long. As for Miller, he 
was from Mississippi. We picked out a comparatively 
clean spot on the deck, near the bow ; we lay down 
on our backs and relaxed our beings into infinite 
patience. We had been thus for perhaps an hour ; 
I was looking up at a little white cloud that seemed 
receding, receding into the blue immensity behind it. 
Suddenly a noise like thunder roared in my ears. The 
little cloud gave a great leap back into its place ; the 
roar dwindled into the voice of Miller, in plaintive, 
disturbed drawl. What the deuce are the niggahs 
doing? he was saying. 

" And certainly the behaviour of that Visayan 
crew was worthy of question. Huddled quietly at the 
stern, one after another they were springing over 
the rail into the small boat that was dragging behind, 
and even as I looked the last man disappeared with 
the painter in his hand. At the same moment I became 
aware of a strange noise. Down in the bowels of the 
lorcha a weird, gentle commotion was going on, a 
multitudinous gluck-gluck as of many bottles being 
emptied. A breath of hot, musty air w r as sighing out 
of the hatch. Then the sea about the poop began to 






8 CAYBIGAN 

rise, to rise slowly, calmly, steadily, like milk in a 
heated pot. 

" By the powers, I shouted, the old tub is going 
down ! 

" It was true. There, upon the sunlit sea, beneath 
the serene sky, silently, weirdly, unprovoked, the old 
boat, as if weary, was sinking in one long sigh of 
lassitude. And we, of course, were going with it. A 
few yards away from the sternpost was the jolly- 
boat with the crew. I looked at them, and in my heart 
I could not condemn them for their sly departure; 
they were all there, arraiz, wife, children, and crew, 
so heaped together that they seemed only a meaning 
less tangle of arms and legs and heads ; the water was 
half an inch from the gunwale, and the one man at 
the oars, hampered, paralysed on all sides, was splash 
ing helplessly while the craft pivoted like a top. 
There was no anger in my heart, yet I was not abso 
lutely reconciled to the situation. I searched the deck 
with my eyes, then from the jolly-boat the arraiz 
obligingly yelled, El biroto, el biroto ! 

" And I remembered the rotten little canoe lashed 
amidships. It didn t take us long to get it into the 
water (the water by that time was very close at hand). 
I went carefully into it first so as to steady it for Mil 
ler, and then, both of us at once, we saw that it would 
hold only one. The bottom, a hollowed log, was 






THE JUDGMENT OF MAN 9 

staunch enough, but the sides, made of pitched bam 
boo lattice, were sagging and torn. It would hold 
only one. 

" Well, who is it? I asked. In my heart there 
was no craven panic, but neither was there sacrifice. 
Some vague idea was in my mind, of deciding who 
should get the place by some game of chance, tossing 
up a coin, for instance. 

" But Miller said, * Ah cain t affawd to take 
chances, seh ; you must git out. 

" He spoke calmly, with great seriousness, but 
without undue emphasis as one enunciating an 
uncontrovertible natural law. I glanced up into his 
face, and it was in harmony with his voice. He didn t 
seem particularly scared; he was serious, that s all; 
his eyes were set in that peculiar, wide-pupilled stare 
of the man contemplating his own fixed idea. 

" No, seh ; Ah cain t affawd it, he repeated. 

" The absurdity of the thing suddenly tingled in 
me like wine. * All right ! I shouted, in a contagion 
of insanity ; all right, take the darned thing ! 

" And I got out. I got out and let him step stiffly 
into the boat, which I obligingly sent spinning from 
the lorcha with one long, strong kick. Then I was 
alone on the deck, which suddenly looked immense, 
stretched on all sides, limitless as loneliness itself. A 
heavy torpor fell from the skies and amid this general 



10 CAYBIGAN 

silence, this immobility, the cabin door alone seemed 
to live, live in weird manifestation. It had been left 
open, and now it was swinging and slamming to and 
fro jerkily, and shuddering from top to bottom. Half 
in plan, half in mere irritation at this senseless, in 
cessant jigging, I sprang toward it and with one 
nervous pull tore it, hinge and all, from the rotten 
woodwork. I heaved it over the side, went in head 
first after it, took a few strokes and lay, belly-down, 
upon it. Just then the lorcha began to rise by the 
head ; the bowsprit went up slowly like a finger point 
ing solemnly to heaven ; then, without a sound, almost 
instantaneously, the whole fabric disappeared. Across 
the now unoccupied space Miller and I rushed 
smoothly toward each other, as if drawn by some 
gigantic magnet ; our crafts bumped gently, like two 
savages caressingly rubbing noses ; they swung apart 
a little and lay side by side, undulating slightly. 

" And we remained there, little black specks upon 
the flashing sea. Two hundred yards away was the 
lorcha s boat; they had reshuffled themselves more 
advantageously and were pulling slowly toward land. 
Not twenty feet from me Miller sat upright in his 
canoe as if petrified. I was not so badly off. The door 
floated me half out of water, and that was lukewarm, 
so I knew that I could stand it a long time. What 
bothered me, though, was that the blamed raft was 



THE JUDGMENT OF MAN 11 

not long enough; that is, the upper part of my 
body being heavier, it took more door to support it, 
so that my feet were projecting beyond the lower 
edge, and every second or so the nibbling of some 
imaginary shark sent them flying up into the air in 
undignified gymnastics. The consoling part of it was 
that Miller was paying no notice. He still sat up, 
rigid, in his canoe, clutching the sides stiffly and look 
ing neither to right nor left. From where I lay I 
could see the cords of his neck drawn taut, and his 
knuckles showing white. 

" * Why the deuce don t you paddle to shore? I 
shouted at length, taking a sudden disgust of the 
situation. 

" He did not turn his head as he answered. * Ah 
Ah, he stammered, the words coming hard as hic 
coughs out of his throat ; Ah don t know haow. 

" Drop the sides of your boat and try, I 
suggested. 

" He seemed to ponder carefully over this for a 
while. Ah think it s safer to stay this-a-way, he 
decided finally. 

" But, good lord, man, I cried, angry at this 
calm stupidity ; if that s what you re going to do, 
you d better get on this door here and let me take 
the boat. I ll paddle ashore and come back for 
you. 



12 CAYBIGAN 

" He turned his head slowly. He contemplated my 
raft long, carefully, critically. 

" Ah think Ah ll be safer heyah, seh, he decided. 
It s a little bit o old door, and Ah reckon they s a 
heap of sharks around. 

" After that I had little to say. Given the premises 
of the man his conclusions- were unquestionable. And 
the premises were a selfishness so tranquil, so ingenu 
ous, so fresh, I might say, that I couldn t work up 
the proper indignation. It was something so perfect 
as to challenge admiration. On the whole, however, 
it afforded a poor subject for conversation; so we 
remained there, taciturn, I on my door, half-sub 
merged in the tepid water, my heels flung up over my 
back, he in his dugout, rigid, his hands clutching the 
sides as if he were trying to hold up the craft out 
of the liquid abyss beneath. 

" And thus we were still when, just as the sun was 
setting sombrely 9 a velos full of chattering natives 
picked us up. They landed us at Bacolod, and Miller 
left me to report to the Sup. I departed before 
sun-up the next morning for my station. I didn t 
want to see Miller again. 

" But I did. One night he came floundering through 
my pueblo. It was in the middle of the rainy season. 
He wasn t exactly caked with mud ; rather, he seemed 
to ooze it out of every pore. He had been assigned 



THE JUDGMENT OF MAN 13 

to Binalbagan, ten miles further down. I stared when 
he told me this, Binalbagan was the worst post on 
the island, a musty, pestilential hole with a sullenly 
hostile population, and he well, inefficiency was 
branded all over him in six-foot letters. I tried to 
stop him over night, but he would not do it, and I 
saw him splash off in the darkness, gaunt, yellow, 
mournful. 

" I saw little of him after that. I was busy estab 
lishing new barrio-schools which were to give me 
excuses for long horseback rides of inspection. I 
felt his presence down there in that vague way by 
which you are aware of a person behind your back 
without turning around. Rumours of his doings 
reached me. He was having a horrible time. On the 
night of his arrival he had been invited to dinner by 
the Presidente. a kind old primitive soul, but when he 
found that he was expected to sit at the table with 
the family, he had stamped off, indignant, saying 
that he didn t eat with no niggers. As I ve said 
before, the town was hostile, and this attitude 
did not help matters much. He couldn t get the 
school moneys out of the Tesorero an unmitigated 
rascal but that did not make much difference, for 
he had no pupils anyhow. He couldn t speak a word 
of Spanish; no one in the town, of course, knew any 
English he must have been horribly lonely. He 



14 CAYBIGAN 

began to wear camisas, like the natives. That s always 
a bad sign. It shows that the man has discovered 
that there is no one to care how he dresses that is, 
that there is no longer any public opinion. It indi 
cates something subtly worse that the man has 
ceased looking at himself, that the 7 has ceased criti 
cising, judging, stiffening up the me in other words, 
that there is no longer any conscience. That white 
suit, I tell you, is a wonderful moral force ; the white 
suit, put on fresh every morning, heavily starched, 
buttoned up to the chin, is like an armour, ironclad- 
ding you against the germ of decay buzzing about 
you, ceaselessly vigilant for the little vulnerable spot. 
Miller wore camisas, and then he began to go without 
shoes. I saw that myself. I was riding through his 
pueblo on my way to Dent s, and I passed his school. 
I looked into the open door as my head bobbed by 
at the height of the stilt-raised floor. He was in his 
camisa and barefooted; his long neck stretched out 
of the collarless garment with a mournful, stork- 
like expression. Squatting on the floor were three 
trouserless, dirt-incrusted boys ; he was pointing at 
a chart standing before their eyes, and all together 
they were shouting some word that exploded away 
down in their throats in tremendous effort and never 
seemed to reach their lips. I called out and waved my 
hand as I went by, and when I looked back, a hundred 



THE JUDGMENT OF MAN 15 

yards farther, I saw that he had come out and was 
standing upon the bamboo platform outside of the 
door, gaping after me with his chin thrown forward 
in that mournful, stork-like way I should have gone 
back. 

" With him, I must say, the camisa did not mean 
all that I have suggested, not the sort of degradation 
of which it is the symbol in other men. The most 
extravagant imagination could not have linked him 
with anything that smacked of romance, romance 
however sordid. His vices, I had sized it, would come 
rather from an excess of calculation than from a lack 
of it. No, that camisa was just a sign of his mean 
ness, his prodigious meanness. And of that I was 
soon given an extraordinary example. 

" I had with me a young fellow named Ledesma, 
whom I was training to be assistant maestro. He was 
very bright, thirsty to learn, and extremely curious 
of us white men. I don t believe that the actions of 
one of them, for fifty miles around, over escaped him, 
and every day he came to me with some talk, some 
rumour, some gossip about my fellow-exiles which he 
would relate to me with those strange interrogative 
inflections that he had brought from his native dia 
lect into English as if perpetually he were seeking 
explanation, confirmation. One morning he said to 
me : The maestro Miller, he does not eat. 



16 CAYBIGAN 

" No? I answered, absent-mindedly. 

" No, he never eats, he reiterated authoritatively, 
although that peculiar Visayan inflection of which 
I have spoken gave him the air of asking a 
question. 

" Oh, I suppose he does, I said, carelessly. 

" * He does not eat, he repeated. Everyone in 
Binalbagan say so. Since he there, he has not bought 
anything at the store. 

" * His muchachos bring him chicken, I suggested. 

" No, senor; he very funny ; he has no muchachos, 
not one muchacho has he. 

" 6 Well, he probably has canned provisions sent 
him. 

" No, senor ; the cargadores they say that never, 
never have they carried anything for him. He does 
not eat. 

" Very well, I concluded, somewhat amused ; he 
does not eat. 

" The boy was silent for a minute, then, * Senor 
Maestro, he asked with suspicious ingenuousness, 
can Americans live without eating? 

" So that I was not able to drop the subject as 
easily as I wished. And coming to a forced consid 
eration of it, I found that my anxiety to do so was 
not very beautiful after all. A picture came to me 
that of Miller on his bamboo platform before his 



THE JUDGMENT OF MAN 17 

door, gazing mournfully after me, his chin thrown 
forward. It did not leave me the day long, and at 
sundown I saddled up and trotted off toward 
Binalbagan. 

" I didn t reach the pueblo that night, however. 
Only a mile from it I plunged out of the moonlight 
into the pitch darkness of a hollow lane cutting 
through Don Jaime s hacienda. Banana palms 
were growing thick to right and left; the way was 
narrow and deep it was a fine place for cutthroats, 
but that evocation had lost much of its romantic 
charm from the fact that, not three weeks before, 
an actual cutthroating had taken place, a Chinese 
merchant having been boloed by tusilanes. Well, I 
was trotting through, my right hand somewhat close 
to my holster, when from the right, close, there came 
a soft, reiterated chopping noise. I pulled up my 
pony. The sound kept up a discreet, persistent 
chopping; then I saw, up above, the moonlit top of 
a palm shuddering, though all about it the others 
remained motionless, petrified as if of solid silver. It 
was a very simple thing after all: someone in there 
was cutting down a palm to get bananas, an occupa 
tion very common in the Philippines, and very pacific, 
in spite of the ominous air given to it by the gigantic 
bolo used. However, something prompted me to draw 
the midnight harvester out. 



18 CAYBIGAN 

" * Heh, ladron, what are you doing there? I 
shouted in dialect. 

" There was a most sudden silence. The chopping 
ceased, the palm stopped vibrating. A vague form 
bounded down the lane, right up against my horse s 
nose, rolled over, straightened up again, and van 
ished into the darkness ahead. Unconsciously I 
spurred on after it. For a hundred yards I galloped 
with nothing in sight. Then I caught a rapid view 
of the thing as it burst through a shaft of moonlight 
piercing the glade, and it showed as a man, a gro 
tesque figure of a man in loose white pantaloons. He 
was frightened, horribly frightened, all hunched up 
with the frenzy to escape. An indistinct bundle was 
on his right shoulder. Like a curtain the dark 
snapped shut behind him again, but I urged on with 
a wild halloo, my blood all a-tingle with the exulta 
tion of the chase. I gained he must have been a 
lamentable runner, for my poor little pony was stag 
gering under my tumultuous weight. I could hear 
him pant and sob a few yards in advance; then he 
came into sight, a dim, loping whiteness ahead. 
Suddenly the bundle left his shoulder; something 
rolled along the ground under my horse s hoofs 
and I was standing on my head in a soft, oozy place. 
I was mad, furiously mad. I picked myself up, went 
back a few yards and, taking my pony by the nose, 



THE JUDGMENT OF MAN 19 

picked him up. A touch of his throbbing flanks, how 
ever, warned me as I was putting my foot into the 
stirrup. I left him there and thundered on foot down 
the lane. I have said I was mad. Yip-yip-yah-ah, 
yip-yip-yah-ah, I yelled as I dashed on a yell I had 
heard among California cattlemen. It must have par 
alysed that flying personage, for I gained upon him 
shockingly. I could hear him pant, a queer, patient 
panting, a sigh rather, a gentle, lamenting sighing, 
and the white camisa flapped ghostily in the dark 
ness. Suddenly he burst out of obscurity, past the 
plantation, into the glaring moonlight. And I I 
stopped short, went down on my hands and knees, 
and crouched back into the shadow. For the man 
running was Miller ; Miller, wild, sobbing, dishevelled, 
his shoulders drawn up to his ears in terrible weari 
ness, his whole body taut with fear, and scudding, 
scudding away, low along the ground, his chin for 
ward, mournful as a stork. Soon he was across the 
luminous space, and then he disappeared into the 
darkness on the other side, flopped head first into it 
as if hiding his face in a pillow. 

" I returned slowly to my horse. He was standing 
where I had left him, his four legs far apart in a 
wide base. Between them was the thing cast off by 
Miller which had thrown us. I examined it by the 
light of a box of matches. It was a bunch of bananas, 



20 CAYBIGAN 

one of those gigantic clusters which can be cut from 
the palms. I got on my horse and rode back home. 

" I didn t go to see .him any more. A man who will 
steal bananas in a country where they can be bought 
a dozen for one cent is too mean to be worth visiting. 
I had another reason, too. It had dawned on me that 
Miller probably did not care to see any of us, that 
he had come down to a mode of life which would not 
leave him appreciative of confrontations with past 
standards. It was almost charity to leave him to 
himself. 

" So I left him to himself, and he lived on in his 
pestilential little hole, alone lived a life more squalid 
every day. It wasn t at all a healthy life, you can 
understand, no healthier physically than morally. 
After a while I heard that he was looking bad, yellow 
as a lemon and the dengue cracking at his bones. I 
began to think of going to him after all, of jerking 
him out of his rut by force, if necessary, making him 
respect the traditions of his race. But just then came 
that Nichols affair, and flaring, his other bad side 
his abject cowardice reappeared to me. You remem 
ber the Nichols thing boloed in the dark between 
my town and Himamaylan. His muchacho had 
jumped into the ditch. Afterward he got out and 
ran back the whole way, fifteen miles, to my place. 
I started down there. My idea was to pick up Miller 



THE JUDGMENT OF MAN 21 

as I passed, then Dent a little further down, find the 
body, and perhaps indications for White of the con 
stabulary to whom I had sent a messenger and who 
could not reach the place till morning. Well, Miller 
refused to go. He had caught hold of some rumour of 
the happening ; he was barricaded in his hut and was 
sitting on his bed, a big Colt s revolver across his 
knees. He would not go, he said it plainly. No, seh ; 
Ah cain t take chances; Ah cain t affawd it. He 
said this without much fire, almost tranquilly, exactly 
as he had, you remember, at the time of our ship 
wreck. It was not so amusing now, however. Here, 
on land, amid this swarming, mysterious hostility, at 
this crisis, it seemed a shocking betrayal of the soli 
darity that bound us all white men. A red rage took 
possession of me. I stood there above him and poured 
out vituperation for five good minutes. I found the 
most extraordinary epithets ; I lowered my voice and 
pierced him with venomous thrusts. He took it all. 
He remained seated on his bed, his revolver across his 
knees, looking straight at some spot on the floor; 
whenever I d become particularly effective he d merely 
look harder at the spot, as if for him it contained 
something of higher significance a command, a rule, 
a precept I don t know what, and then he d say, 
No, Ah cain t ; Ah cain t affawd it. 

" I burst out of there, a-roar like a bombshell. I 



22 CAYBIGAN 

rode down to Dent ; we rode down to the place and did 
what there was to be done. Miller, I never wanted 
to see again. 

" But I did. Some three weeks later a carrier came 
to me with a note a pencilled scrawl upon a torn 
piece of paper. It read: 

I think I am dying. Can you come see me ? 

* MILLER. 

" I went down right away. He was dead. He had 
died there, alone, in his filthy little hut, in that God 
forsaken pueblo, ten miles from the nearest white 
man, ten thousand miles from his home. He had died 
there all alone. 

" I ll always remember our coming in. It was night. 
It had been raining for thirty-six hours, and as we 
stepped into the unlighted hut, my muchacho and I, 
right away the floor grew sticky and slimy with the 
mud on our feet, and as we groped about blindly, we 
seemed ankle-deep in something greasy and abom 
inable like gore. After a while the boy got a torch out 
side, and as he flared it I caught sight of Miller on 
his cot, backed up into one corner. He was sitting 
upright, staring straight ahead and a little down, 
as if in careful consideration. As I stepped toward 
him the pliable bamboo floor undulated; the move- 



THE JUDGMENT OF MAN 23 

ment was carried to him and he began to nod, very 
gently and gravely. He seemed to be saying : 6 No, 
Ah cain t affawd it. It was atrocious. Finally I was 
by his side and he was again motionless, staring 
thoughtfully. Then I saw what he was considering. 
In his hands, which lay twined on his knees, were a 
lot of little metallic oblongs. I disengaged them. 
The muchacho drew nearer, and with the torch over 
my shoulder I examined them. They were photo 
graphs, cheap tintypes. The first was of a woman, 
a poor being, sagging with overwork, a lamentable 
baby in her arms. The other pictures were of chil 
dren six of them, boys and girls, of all ages from 
twelve to three, and under each, in painful chirog- 
raphy, a name was written Lee Miller, Amy Miller, 
Geraldine Miller, and so on. 

" You don t understand, do you? For a moment I 
didn t understand. I stared stupidly at those tin 
types, shuffled and reshuffled them; the torch roared 
in my ear. Then, suddenly, understanding came to 
me; it came sharp as a pang. He had a wife and 
children seven children. 

" A simple fact, wasn t it, a commonplace one, 
almost vulgar, you might say. And yet what a 
change of view produced by it, what a dislocation of 
judgment! I was like a man riding through a strange 
country, in a storm, at night. It is dark, he cannot 



24 CAYBIGAN 

see, he has never seen the country, yet as he rides on 
he begins to picture to himself the surroundings, his 
imagination builds for him a landscape a mountain 
there, a river here, wind-streaming trees over there 
and right away it exists, it is, it has solidity, mass, 
life. Then suddenly comes a flash of lightning, a 
second of light, and he is astounded, absolutely 
astounded to see the real landscape different from 
that indestructible thing that his mind had built. 
Thus it was with me. I had judged, oh, I had judged 
him thoroughly, sized him up to a certainty, and 
bang, came the flare of this new fact, this extremely 
commonplace fact, and I was all off, all off. I must 
begin to judge again, only it would never do that 
man any good. 

" A hundred memories came back to me, glared at 
me in the illumination of that new fact. I remem 
bered the camisa, the bare feet. I saw him running 
down the lane with his bunch of stolen bananas. I 
recalled that absurd scene on the waters ; I heard him 
say : No, seh ; Ah cain t aff awd to take chances ; Ah 
cain t affawd it. 

" Of course he couldn t afford it. Think a wife 
and seven children ! 

" That night I went through his papers, putting 
things in order, and from every leaf, every scrap, 
came corroboration of the new fact. It was easy 



THE JUDGMENT OF MAN 25 

enough to patch up his life. He was one of those 
pitiful pedagogues of the rural South, shiftless, 
half-educated, inefficient. He had never been able 
to earn much, and his family had always gently 
starved. Then had come the chance, the golden 
chance the Philippines and a thousand a year. 
He had taken the bait, had come ten thou 
sand miles to the spot of his maximum value. 
Only, things had not gone quite right. Thanks 
to the beautiful red-tape of the department, three 
months had gone before he had received his first 
month s pay. Then it had come in Mex., and 
when he had succeeded in changing it into gold it had 
dwindled to sixty dollars. Of course, he had sent it 
all back, for even then it would take it six more 
weeks to reach its destination, and sixty dollars is 
hardly too much to tide over five months for a family 
of eight. These five months had to be caught up in 
some way, so every month his salary, depreciated ten 
per cent, by the change, had gone across the waters. 
He wore camisas and no shoes, he stole bananas. 
And his value, shoeless, camisa-clothed, was sixty dol 
lars a month. He was just so much capital. He had 
to be careful of that capital. 

" Ah cain t afFawd to take chances ; Ah cain t 
affawd it. Of course he couldn t. 

" And so he had fought on blindly, stubbornly, 



26 CAYBIGAN 

and, at last, with that pitiful faculty we have, all 
of us, of defeating our own plans, he had killed him 
self, he had killed the capital, the golden goose. 

" Yes, I found confirmation, but, after all, I did 
not need it. I had learned it all ; understanding had 
come to me, swift, sharp, vital as a pang, when in 
the roaring light of the torch I had looked upon the 
pale little tintypes, the tintypes of Lee and Amy 
and Jackson and Geraldine." 



II 

THE MAESTRO OF BALANGILANG 

THE Maestro of Balangilang opened the door of his 
nipa-hut and started down the crazy bamboo ladder 
on his way to the school. It was early. The sun was 
pumping back the water that had fallen through the 
night, and the grass-dishevelled common, the palm- 
groves about, the musty mountains to the east, the 
whole landscape, steamed like one great cauldron. 
Caribaos were wallowing in the mudholes, a dozen 
dogs were fighting at the church portals, a stream of 
brownies were pouring into the schoolhouse, and, in 
front of the cuartel, the company of native scouts 
were going through scientific evolutions. 

The Maestro stopped at the bottom of the steps 
and took in the scene with a wistful attempt at admi 
ration. A vague discouragement oozed into his soul, 
but he shook himself vigorously and started across. 
Through the viscid atmosphere he cut his way in 
sprightly fashion. His long legs snapped back and 
forth like springs. At regular intervals his chest 
swelled ; it remained puffed out like that of a pouter- 
pigeon while he took twenty steps, then collapsed 

27 



28 CAYBIGAN 

with the hollow report of an air gun. He was finish 
ing up his morning calisthenics. 

As he reached the centre of the plaza an unfamiliar 
object stopped him abruptly. It was only a cross, a 
rough cross made of two pieces of bamboo fastened 
at right angles with bejuca and stuck into the ground, 
but it seemed to have meaning to the Maestro. He 
walked up close to it and examined it carefully. He 
was disappointed for a moment ; then his fingers, 
passing along the horizontal piece, touched a thorn 
stuck like a nail in the axis of the cross. Holding his 
breath, for it was not yet time to exhale, he nodded 
knowingly and his eyes searched the ground about 
him. They soon, lit upon what he wanted. He 
pounced upon a bunch of wild palay, stooped, and 
was up again with something white in his hand. 

It was a piece of paper, limp and bespattered with 
the night s rain, but on which characters in native 
Visayan were still visible. The Maestro pored over 
it closely, then his pent-up breath exploded. 

" Papa Isio," he exclaimed gaily. " The Mad Pope 
is coming to see us." 

He stopped, with thought upon his brow. 

" I lost my home and punching-bag at it once," 
he said, musingly. " Well, we ll give him a scrim 
mage this time." 

After which somewhat incoherent remark he folded 



MAESTRO OF BALANGILANG 29 

the sodden bit of paper carefully into his pocket, took 
a new deep breath, and walked on. As he approached 
the drilling company of scouts he saw with pleasure 
that Lieutenant Roberts was back from his tour of 
inspection and was at their head. 

" Hello, Roberts," he shouted, with easy cordiality, 
as he came within hearing distance. " Hello, Roberts, 
old man; putting the boys through signal-prac 
tice, eh? " 

The officer, who had just assumed a fine attitude 
arms folded at the height of the chin, legs glued 
together in a gracefully curved column, chest pro 
jected forward till it threw a shadow upon the 
ground did not respond with effusion. 

" Present Hums ! " he said. " Carr-ie-ie Hums ! 
Shoulder Hums!" 

The Maestro took off his cap and, raising his 
freckled face to heaven, shook his head vigorously. 
A wealth of carrot-red hair parted at the crown 
and cascaded down the temples; and with the thus 
restored vision of two green eyes he observed the 
performance of the little brown soldiers criti 
cally. 

" Pretty fine, Lieut," he said, encouragingly. 
" Very fair team-work ; they ll do. You ought to see 
what / ve taught them, though. I ll show you after 
drill. It s something scrumptious." 



30 CAYBIGAN 

" Parade Rest ! Attentio-ion ! Port Hums ! 
Shoulder Hums ! " said the officer. 

" Yes, they ll do for signal-practice all right," 
resumed the youth, in soothing, patronising tones. 
" But," he went on, with a little of suggestive crit 
icism in his voice, " what about the real thing, Lieut? 
What about their shooting, eh? I m blest if I ve ever 
seen them discharge anything except blanks, have 
you?" 

"Fours right March! Column left!" 

" Hep, hep, hep," came the column straight for the 
schoolmaster. The Lieutenant was muttering some 
thing in his mustache that sounded like a benediction. 
For a long six months, since the organisation of the 
company, a prudent government had denied his 
pleadings for permission to give his men target prac 
tice. The Scouts were an experiment, and there was 
a vague feeling that they should not be taught too 
much. 

"Why is that, Roberts?" persisted the Maestro, 
calmly dodging the advancing phalanx and dropping 
into the confidential manner. " Why don t you let 
them shoot? Are you afraid that they might begin 
on your broad back? Are you " 

A sudden start of pain closed his mouth. The Lieu 
tenant had quietly planted his heel, in passing, upon 
the Educational toe, crushing down upon it with all 



MAESTRO OF BALANGILANG 31 

the enthusiasm of two hundred pounds a-thrill with 
long-suppressed rage. 

The Maestro s eyes followed the officer, marching 
at the side of his company. His mouth opened in a 
broad grin that displayed a startling vacuum where 
once had been two good teeth, now lying peacefully 
on the sod of the old Berkeley gridiron. 

" Guess it s school-time," he said. 

He sprinted fifty yards, leaped an eighteen-foot 
ditch, hurdled a little goat, bucked a carabao around 
till its tail was where its head had been, and bounded 
into the schoolroom. 

Two hundred brown ninos sprang to their feet. 

" Guda morrneen," they howled, in unison. 

" Good-morning," answered the Maestro, briskly. 
" Come, let s get at this. No shirking, quick ! Arm 
exercise! One, two; one, two." 

He led them through a furious set of exercises in 
which he himself took part enthusiastically, the per 
spiration cascading down his nose. 

" You poor, scrawny weaklings," he said, at last, 
beaming upon the breathless little assemblage. 
" Never you mind ; I ll make men of you." 

Then he started to go. " Give them reading," he 
shouted to his native assistant from the door, " and 
breathing exercises every half hour." 

But he came back, on an after-thought, and placed 



32 CAYBIGAN 

under the nose of his faithful colleague the piece of 
sodden paper he had picked up on the plaza. 

The man s skin went yellow beneath the brown. 
" Papa Isio," he whispered. 

" Just what I thought," said the Maestro, nodding 
to himself. " And he says he is coming here, doesn t 
he?" 

" Yes, sir. He will come and burn the pueblo. 
That is the way he burned Cabayan last year." 

" Gol darn it, don t I know it?" ejaculated the 
pedagogue, fiercely. " And didn t I lose my brand-new 
seven-dollar Spalding punching-bag ? Well, we ll set 
him on his head this time." 

" Yes, sir," meekly answered the assistant, who 
had not caught the full import of the explosive 
questions. 

But the maestro did not hear him. He was 
out already and making his way to the cuartel. 
Roberts was dismissing the company when he 
arrived. 

" Hello, you take them now," said the officer, as 
he saw the Maestro Professor of Military Gymnas 
tics also, by common consent near him. " And, by 
the way," he added, with suppressed glee, " how s 
the toe? " 

The Maestro did not answer. He was working at 
the inside of his khaki jacket. With some trouble 



MAESTRO OF BALANGILANG 33 

he drew out a flat, oblong box. From this he took a 
piece of yellow leather and a shining object that 
looked like a bicycle pump. He inserted the mouth 
of the pump into a hole in the leather and worked the 
handle up and down in rapid movement. The thing 
began to swell and take shape. Finally it looked like 
a great leather egg. He threw it on the ground, 
toward one of the loafing soldiers, and the latter, as 
an automaton worked by some powerful spring, 
hurled himself headfirst at it, grasped it inside of 
both arms, and lay on it, while the rest of the com 
pany poured upon him in an avalanche. 

" How s that, eh? " asked the schoolmaster, turn 
ing upon the Lieutenant an eye that winked. 

He did not wait for an answer. At a signal the 
company had formed into a long, crouching line. He 
placed himself behind it, took a quick step, and 
booted the pigskin a resounding whack. At the sound 
the whole line galloped off in ferocious pursuit, and 
when, after describing a beautiful parabola, the ball 
bumped along the ground, it was smothered at the 
second bounce beneath the gross weight of the 
company. 

" And how s that ? " asked the Maestro, in tone 
still more compelling. 

He turned to his men. " The Varsity," he called, 
a trifle pompously. 



34 CAYBIGAN 

Eleven men stood out from the rest and lined up 
in a team. 

" Six, eight, fifteen ! " he shouted. 

The team went through the pantomime of a fierce 
mass on centre. 

" Four, fifteen, twenty-two." 

The team swirled around in an end-run. 

Then he hurled signals at them, and, in quick suc 
cession, with a tangle here and there, it is true, they 
went through an entire repertory cross tackle 
bucks, straight openings, tandems, kangaroos, re 
volving masses, double and delayed passes, fake kicks. 
They massed and bucked the air about as if it 
offered no resistance. It was beautiful to see. 

" And now, behold ! " said the engineer of this fine 
performance, pausing solemnly. 

He drew a line in the earth with his heel and placed 
the ball upon it. The quarterback took his position 
near the ball and the rest of the team gathered some 
twenty yards away. 

" Five, twenty-four, six X ! " barked the Maestro. 

There was a rapid movement among the men, and 
then they shot out in a long V. On the walk at first, 
then on the trot, then at full gallop the V swept down 
toward the line. The quarterback stooped, picked 
up the ball, and dexterously passed it as the forma 
tion thundered down upon him. The ball disappeared, 



MAESTRO OF BALANGILANG 35 

swallowed up within the V, which, passing the line 
with tremendous impetus, rumbled on like a battering- 
ram to a glorious touch-down. 

" The flying wedge," announced the Maestro, in 
the tone of the knickerbockered flunkey ushering his 
Grace, the Lord Hunter of the Billion Mark, into the 
Reception Hall. " Barred out in the States, but, 
lordy, we re so far way, and it s such a good one, 
that I thought I d give it to them anyhow. Well, what 
do you think of my team-work, eh? " 

The Lieutenant pondered a moment in silent 
malevolence. 

" Yes," he said, " pretty fair for signal-practice. 
But what about the real thing, eh? Why don t they 
get at each other? I don t see them scrimmage, do 
you?" 

A cloud obscured the radiance of the Maestro s 
visage. 

"Well," he said, ruefully, "we re in the Philip 
pines. My team can run signals, but you can t expect 
them to play. And," he added, in sudden consolation, 
" your Scouts can drill, but they won t fight." 

The situation had become tense beyond words, and 
the Maestro gracefully evoluted. 

" Papa Isio is coming," he said. " I picked up his 
announcement this morning in the middle of the 
plaza." 



36 CAYBIGAN 

" Papa Isio is a common carabao thief," said the 
Lieutenant. " Besides, our troops have killed him 
already five distinct times and he doesn t exist. And 
it s not up to me, anyhow. Go see Hafner." 

So the Maestro went off to see Hafner. Leopold 
Joseph Hafner, First Lieutenant of Scouts, U. S. A., 
Commandant of the Post of Balangilang, was reclin 
ing in an easy-chair on his veranda, a bottle of gin 
under his nose. He greeted his visitor with a blank 
stare. The Commandant disapproved of pedagogues, 
and, in fact, of civilians in general. 

" Hello, Lieut," shouted the Maestro, with an 
irreverence that would have sent a shudder along the 
spine of a neutral witness. " Here s a piece of paper 
for you." 

The Commandant examined the paper. 

"Well?" he said, at length, with an indifference 
calculated to crush. 

" Oh, nothing. Only that Papa Isio is coming. 
That s the way he announced his visit when I was at 
Cabayan last spring, and he burned the town down 
and my punching bag, and made hash of the " 

He stopped with a little gurgle of dismay. Hafner 
had risen from the ranks by a Teutonic adhesion to 
regulations, and rumour, supported by his manner 
isms, had it that his debut in the army had been 
culinary. The remark about the fate of the inhab- 



MAESTRO OF BALANGILANG 37 

itants of Cabajan was harmless; the little gurgle 
was not. 

" And what business is that of yours ? " asked the 
Commandant, with a snort. 

" Not much. Thought you d like to know, so as 
to get ready " 

" Sir," interrupted the Commandant, pompously, 
" the American Army is always ready." 

" I was speaking of your Scouts, sir," the Maestro 
corrected, suavely. 

He had been maneuvering toward the door during 
the latter part of the dialogue, and with the last 
word he waved an airy good-by and hop-skipped- 
jumped down the stairs. 

The next day Papa Isio was in town. 

The Commandant and his Second Lieutenant were 
aware of the fact at the same time. For, startled out 
of their morning slumbers by a screeching tumult, 
they sprang to their windows to see the whole popu 
lation of Balangilang driving past as if the demon 
were after them men, women, children, half- 
dressed, dishevelled, their eyes bursting out of their 
sockets, carrying bundles of hastily snatched goods 
or squalling babies. And from this multitude, flying 
by like nightmare creatures, there came one long, 
wailing cry : " Papa Isio ! Papa Isio ! " 



38 CAYBIGAN 

Against the black-blue background of the moun 
tains, over which one golden raj of sun was just 
sliding like a long rapier lunging toward the heart 
of the city, volutes of smoke were rising heavily in 
the water-logged air. Beneath, spiteful red tongues 
leaped up and out again with explosive cracklings. 
The whole eastern part of the pueblo was burning. 

The officers ran to the cuartel. The men were in 
an uproar. With the force of habit, acquired 
through the countless parade drills which had been 
their sole military experience, they had made a con 
certed rush and were ferociously fighting among 
themselves for the combs and brushes and shoe- 
blacking. 

" Here, here," thundered Roberts, while Hafner 
fumbled at the iron door of the storeroom where was 
the carefully guarded ammunition ; " here, here, you 
don t need to comb your hair. Get your guns and 
cartridge-belts." 

His additional persuasion was physical and evi 
dently potent, for when the men filed past Hafner to 
get their ammunition they all had their rifles in hand 
and their belts around their waists, though some had 
not had time to don other garments generally re 
garded, in more social crises at least, as indispensa 
ble. They poured out, were rapidly formed in front 
of the cuartel, and, as they deployed across the plaza, 



MAESTRO OF BALANGILANG 39 

from the smoke ahead Papa Isio s mad mountaineers 
emerged in convulsive charge. A drainage ditch cut 
the town transversely and the Scouts dropped neatly 
into it; then their rifles slid out between the grass 
tufts like venomous things. 

" Fire at will ! " bellowed the Commandant. 

Here the Regulations, which hitherto had unwaver 
ingly rewarded Hafner for his respect of them, sud 
denly went faithless. 

" During the final rush of the attacking party," 
they say, categorically, " firing should be at will, for 
then the rapidity of fire and the flatness of traj ectory 
are more to be relied upon than accuracy." 

But alas ! the peculiar moral characteristics of 
the Balangilang Scouts had not been considered when 
the Regulations were elaborated. 

The flatness of trajectory worked poorly. At first 
pop the majority of the Scouts emptied their maga 
zines like bunches of firecrackers. Most of the bullets 
sped towards the rising sun, to whisper the story of 
their masters unsteady nerves to the trees in the hills. 
To be just, however, it must be recorded that some 
ploughed up the ground directly beneath the marks 
men s noses. Even then the mere noise which was 
positively tremendous might have checked the ad 
vance of the attackers had they not been Papa Isio s 
own Dios-Dios crew of mad, weird fellows, hurled on 



40 CAYBIGAN 

by that religious spirit which kills so finely. Their 
Mad Pope was sending them to everlasting glory, 
and Death would only expedite the voyage. On they 
came, howling, mouth-distorted, muscles convulsively 
tense, a foaming, maniacal band. At their head a 
big black man with rolling eyeballs bounded, waving 
a long lance ending in a blood-dipped standard. The 
war drums hummed in rhythm. 

The Scouts were not at ease. Some were still pep 
pering at the sun, but the majority were fighting 
their rifles, trying to reload them with stiff, clutching 
fingers that did not work expeditiously, or pounding 
at them with a rage that told of something jammed. 
Running up and down behind the line, the two officers 
were waving their swords, shouting and cursing in 
an attempt to reinstill in their men that automatic 
regularity which had been their fond pride. But the 
strings were broken and the puppets worked spas 
modically. The incoming rush was only a hundred 
yards away. Suddenly, with a wonderful burst of 
speed, the big standard-bearer spurted ahead of his 
companions. A Scout rose from the trench and aimed 
his rifle, when the blood-dripping rag described a 
rapid parabola and was sticking flaccidly on the 
soldier s khaki, the handle quivering behind. Hafner 
saw the hands go up, clutching at the sun. 

" With the bayonet charge," he bellowed. 



MAESTRO OF BALANGILANG 41 

" Hold on," screamed Roberts, in frenzied warn 
ing ; " they haven t had that yet ! " 

And then he found himself surrounded, pushed, 
jostled, swept away in a furious stampede. Though 
they " hadn t had it," the men were charging, but it 
was in the wrong direction. Across the plaza they 
avalanched, toward the stone church, and when Rob 
erts flowed in with the tumultuous current, he had a 
vision of the Commandant, purple and spitting with 
rage, at his elbow. The heavy doors clanged shut 
behind them. 

There was a moment of silence. The men were 
panting in a corner with the " I-couldn t-help-it " air 
of a young dog whose inherited tendencies have 
proved too strong for his acquired characteristics. 
The officers looked at each other blankly. 

" Well," said Roberts, " we ought to hold em here, 
sure." 

" Hold them ! " screeched the Commandant. " Why, 
blank, blankety, blank, blank, these forsaken, evil- 
parented, divinity-doomed curs should drive the 
measly, meanly-pedigreed carabao thieves clean off 
this evil earth. Why, doom my soul " 

" Well, let s see about it," said Roberts, briskly, 
while his superior choked in a befuddlement of 
rage. 

He ran up the gallery steps to one of the six great 



42 CAYBIGAN 

windows which overlooked the plaza. He peered out 
guardedly, then with more confidence; his nose went 
out, then his head; his shoulders followed, his whole 
bust, and he was standing in the opening, his whole 
wide area in full view. His lower jaw hung in limp 
astonishment. 

For what he saw was not at all what he had ex 
pected to see. 

The Dios-Dios men were not surrounding the 
church. For some inexplicable reason they had 
stopped at the ditch. From his elevated position the 
Lieutenant could see them inside the trench, huddled 
like fish in a basket. Their fine ardour had singularly 
cooled. Grovellingly they flattened themselves at the 
bottom of the ditch, fighting for the underneath 
position, squirming in such convulsions as are 
ascribed to a certain gentleman of mediaeval legends 
when sprinkled with holy water. And when Roberts 
searched for some possible explanation, a fresh sur 
prise puckered his lips in a low whistle. For, strewn 
over a space extending some fifty yards on the near 
side of the trench, there were six or seven bodies 
lying face downward, with arms outstretched toward 
the church. The Dios-Dios men had not stopped at 
the trench; they had passed it and had been driven 
back to it by some mysterious catastrophe. Among 
the bodies Roberts recognised that of the big epilep- 






MAESTRO OF BALANGILANG 43 

tic leader of the charge, his gory standard a red spot 
in a bunch of cogon. 

The movements in the trench were increasing in 
vehemence. Suddenly Roberts knew the cause. To his 
ears, inattentive from the very intensity of his visual 
observation, there now came a significant sound. At 
regular, business-like intervals the sharp ping-ing of 
a Mauser carbine split the air, dying off in a long- 
drawn whistle. The Lieutenant succeeded in locating 
the sound. It came from a deserted hut seemingly 
from its roof at the upper end of the ditch. 

The thing was clear now. The mysterious sharp 
shooter had the Dios-Dios men enfiladed. And the 
movements in the ditch were not all actuated by 
search for shelter. They were convulsive somersaults ; 
stiff hands clutched at earth and grass. A little red 
stream began to trickle out of the lower end of the 
ditch. 

The Dios-Dios men were becoming demoralised. 
The report of a Mauser is difficult to locate to the 
most experienced; to the fanatics the thing was im 
palpable mystery. And the plaza was deserted. If 
there had been only some human presence to rekindle 
their rage, they might have gone on in their mad 
race. But there was nothing. The Scouts were secure 
in the big stone church. The long, flat plaza was 
dead; the sun dripped into craniums like molten 



44 CAYBIGAN 

lead, and from the nowhere hailed the weird missiles, 
shattering arms, puncturing bodies, bursting open 
heads. One man crawled back, two followed, ten in 
a bunch, and in another minute the tall grass was all 
alive with sinuous movements and there was nobody 
in the trench, nothing except limp heaps of what 
looked like cast-off clothing. 

The door of the hut marked by Roberts flew open 
as if by explosion and the Maestro burst out, a smok 
ing gun in his right hand, a revolver in his left, 
another revolver and a bolo in his belt. With a pirati 
cal yell he raced across the plaza, his long legs work 
ing smooth as well-greased machinery, his red hair 
flying behind him. When midway along the trench 
he leaped upon a mound left by the excavators and 
stretched out in bold relief. A strange war-cry, 
beginning with something about some husky wow-wow 
(whoever he might be), passing on to a no less inter 
esting fact about a whisky wee-wee, rising through a 
tremulous crescendo about some sort of a yah, and 
culminating in a long, shrill whoop, reverberated 
atrociously over the deserted battlefield. Then the 
gun that had waved through these vocal convulsions 
dropped back to the Maestro s shoulder, and a rapid 
fusilade gave a pronounced accentuation to the wav 
ing of the grass along the line of smouldering nipa- 
huts. 



r MAESTRO OF BALANGILANG 45 

Roberts tried to dodge away from the window, but 
he was too late. The Maestro, through with his flour 
ish, had turned and spied him. Roberts could see the 
tooth-lacking mouth agape in a broad grin. The 
Maestro waved his hand amiably. " Come on," said 
the gesture, reassuringly. " Come on ; it s all right 
now." A violent blush rose to the officer s face. 

But he had not time for self -analysis. Along the 
ruins, at the farther edge of the plaza, the Dios-Dios 
men were reforming. The panic-stricken groups were 
being coalesced in a triple line, and between these 
lines a strange being, in a long robe and incongruous 
helmet, was slowly passing in weird ceremony. It 
was the Mad Pope himself. He was locking the lines 
hand in hand. As he passed before his followers, each 
took his bolo between his teeth and grasped the hand 
of the man to the right; and over the clasp the 
illumined leader made the sign of the cross. It was 
grotesque, but not laughable. The puerility of garb 
and ceremonial was lost in the significance of the 
result. The Dios-Dios hysteria flamed anew. It was 
as if a monkey had invoked the Death Angel and the 
Death Angel had answered. 

Roberts was leaving the window in haste when his 
last sweeping glance over the plaza froze him again 
in attention. 

It seemed to him that the red rag which signalled 



46 CAYBIGAN 

the position of the leader of the first charge had 
moved. It seemed nearer, fully ten paces nearer, to 
the ditch than when he had first espied it. And now, 
even as he looked, the thing advanced sinuously and 
a bronze body glistened between the bunches of grass 
in a rapid crawl of ten feet or more toward the uncon 
scious schoolmaster who, with his back to the subtle 
danger, was now watching alertly ahead. 

The Lieutenant s hands went to his mouth in a 
warning halloo. 

" Hey, there," he shouted, " look out in back there. 
In back, in back." 

But the Maestro did not understand. The word 
" back," which he caught, was not to his liking. 

" Oh, hell ! " floated back the irreverent answer. 
" I m all right. Come on, you fellows. / // hold them." 

Roberts desisted. There was no time for further 
dialogue. The Dios-Dios lines were beginning to move 
forward. And besides, at that particular moment, the 
Lieutenant did not care much what happened to the 
amiable pedagogue. He clattered downstairs. 

The men were lined up, blinking before the flashes 
of Hafner s sword and language. The doors were 
thrown open and the company rushed out. Almost 
at the same time, from the other side of the plaza, 
the triple line of hand-locked fanatics began to move 
forward. 



MAESTRO OF BALANGILANG 47 

It was a race for the ditch and the Maestro, and a 
comfortable one, seemingly, for the Scouts, who had 
but half of the distance to go. But Roberts, through 
with the temporary vexation caused by the Maestro s 
peculiar ways, led his men at a furious pace. His 
sword in his left hand, his revolver in his right, his 
whole big frame vibrating with the effort, he raced 
ahead with an energy that seemed very unnecessary to 
Hafner, who, puffing, was falling farther and farther 
behind. For the Dios-Dios men were being seriously 
hampered in their advance. The Papa s hand-locked 
formation doubtless had its advantages morally, but 
it had also its disadvantages materially. The Maes 
tro s carbine was working busily, and soon there were 
dents in the Dios-Dios lines, and some of the hand 
clasps were strong with the tenacity not of life, but of 
death. The Scouts had the race well in hand, but still 
Roberts tugged ahead, snarling with the effort. Be 
hind the Maestro he could see a tell-tale undulation 
of the high grass, nearer and nearer. He was only a 
few yards from the trench now. Suddenly a panther- 
lithe form bounded from the ground behind the school 
master and a big black man with upraised arms, ter 
minating in a kriss, stood out in relief. Roberts s 
revolver spit. The black arms whizzed down with a 
velocity hardly lessened by the limpness of death. 
There was a dull thud ; the schoolmaster rolled slowly 



48 CAYBIGAN 

into the ditch, and the big- black man pitched head 
long down upon him. 

" By , too bad," muttered Roberts, and then 

his revolver spluttered. The situation was not bad. 
The Scouts had gained the trench in good time. 
Bunched together and firing by platoon, they were 
doing better. The Dios-Dios line received each volley 
with a shivering bow, and if this involuntary courtesy 
proved the firing to be still too high, it no less showed 
that it was at least within whistling distance. The 
ardour of the advance waned gradually ; at last the 
lines stopped in indecision. The more rabid fanatics 
were still tugging forward, the others were holding 
back, and the lines vibrated between the two impulses 
without advancing. It was the psychological moment. 

" Time for a charge, eh? " Roberts shouted, turn 
ing to his superior. 

But that gentleman was sleeping quietly, his face 
in the grass, and a shivered lance-handle by his side. 

" With the bayonet charge ! " bellowed Roberts, 
taking command. 

He took a few steps in advance and found himself 
alone. The Scouts were satisfied with their position; 
they settled a little deeper in the trench and peppered 
away valiantly. 

" Charge, darn you, charge ! " screeched Roberts, 
pricking the nearest men with his sword. 



MAESTRO OF BALANGILANG 49 

But the few minutes of oral instruction upon charg 
ing, given in the church, proved inadequate. Three 
or four those who had come in closest contact with 
Roberts s persuasion started out convulsively, took 
a few steps, and suddenly flopped back into the ditch 
like frogs into a puddle. 

The Dios-Dios lines were stiffening now. With the 
Maestro s rifle quiet, their immunity from punishment 
was encouraging. Back of them, upright on a mound, 
the pseudo-sainted form of Papa Isio stood with arms 
stretched to heaven in fervent exhortation. The more 
valiant began to prevail. The lines began to move 
forward again. 

" Oh, Lord," groaned Roberts, " if the little skunks 
would only charge." 

And then from the depths of the trench there slowly 
emerged a strange, inchoate, human thing. As it rose 
it segregated ; one half of it fell off in a big black, 
limp body. The rest continued unfolding, up and up, 
till finally it stood in full view, a weird, bloody, red- 
haired, dishevelled spectre. It tottered unsteadily 
on the talus and then a shrill, unearthly voice 
quavered : 

" Five, twenty-four, six X ! " 

There was a movement in the trench. 

" Five, twenty-four, six X ! " again wailed the la 
mentable voice. 



50 CAYBIGAN 

A little group of men sprang out of the trench 
and charged in a V a-down the square ; the rest of the 
company poured out in helter-skelter pursuit. Before 
this incongruous advance the Dios-Dios lines, who 
had seen enough miracles for one day, broke, turned, 
and fled. A small body held their ground, and the 
Scouts struck them with a crumpling crash. For 
three minutes it was bayonet against bolo, and Rob- 
erts s revolver turned the scales. In another minute 
the plaza was cleared and the last of Papa Isio s 
forces were disappearing among the burned huts with 
bayonets at their backs. 

When Roberts returned with his elated soldiers he 
found the pueblo occupied by a detachment sent from 
Bago. A stretcher was starting on a tour of the 
field, but Roberts ran ahead of it to the centre of the 
plaza. 

His attention had been caught by a vague move 
ment there. Through the high grass he could see 
something struggling and bounding in sudden, sharp 
movement. 

It was the inevitable Maestro. He was on top of 
Hafner, who also had come back to life, and was 
" kneeing " him with characteristic enthusiasm. 

" Mr. Referee," screamed the gentle educator, 
when he had been pulled away by Roberts, aided by a 



MAESTRO OF BALANGILANG 51 

corporal s squad ; " Mr. Referee, he crawled after you 
blew the whistle! Put that ball back, you scalawag. 
Our ball!" 

Then he fainted, which, considering the day s work, 
was about the proper thing to do. 



Ill 

HER READING 

r^ 

O UT over Mariveles the sun had set in sombre splen 
dour. A velvet pall of darkness had fallen upon the 
earth like a conclusion; but the waters of the bay 
still glowed, glowed with a light that was not re 
flected, but floated up from within a luminous exha 
lation, as it were, from the mysterious depths 1 a 
dark purplish light that should not have been, which 
astonished the soul and was sinister. Someone on the 
veranda mentioned Morton. The short, idle sentence 
split the peace of the moment like an electric spark. 
And the silence that immediately engulfed it was not 
as the silence that had been before; it was a silence 
full of unrest, of vague spiritual heavings and stir 
rings, of tumult invisible, unheard, impalpable and 
yet felt, poignantly felt, in some immaterial way, as 
is felt at sea the surge of waters through the impene 
trability of the mists. It was such a silence as always 
followed the invocation of the man ; for his case was 
one which filled us with inward clamour and question 
ing, and yet pinned us beneath the weight of some 
indefinable oppression. 

52 



HER READING 53 

But Courtland began to speak, and we leaned for 
ward, intent, knowing that he must understand. Yet 
his first words were a confession of doubt, of that 
same inability to pierce the depths of the thing and 
pass sentence which exasperated us all vaguely. 

" I don t know if I understand yet," he began, 
slowly. " I ve stared and stared at it and yet I 
don t know. Sometimes I think I understand a lit 
tle more every day and yet " 

His voice had droned off gradually. A heavy tor 
por descended from the low sky. Far out lights flared 
up, red, dishevelled lights that bounded and leaped, 
up and down, to and fro, in frenzied dance. The 
Tagal fishermen were calling the fish with their allur 
ing flames ; the soft, insistent tapping of their pad 
dles upon the flanks of their canoes came to our ears 
like hypnotic suggestion. They began to shout, a 
mad medley of yells that wavered, broke, began again 
and at last welded in one long, quavering cry full of 
incomprehensible desolation. 

And Courtland s voice bassed forth again, with 
unexpected steadiness. 

" It isn t the fall of him that s difficult ; that s easy, 
too easy we see so much of it. But the redemption 
unless we go back to the old explanation, puerile 
to us complicated moderns, perhaps from its very 
obviousness the old theory of purification through 



54 CAYBIGAN 

suffering. But you know, there re the others, that 

suffered, too; and they . And then there is She. 

She is the mystery, the holy mystery. Before her 
she had his soul, legible to her like a book. And the 
leaves wear a smear of mud and blood. And yet 
what did she read? Out of these defiled pages, what 
fact did she grasp as the All-Important? " 

We listened, patiently waiting, waiting for the 
word, the solution. 

" You remember him a tall, dark, aquiline man, 
with something Indian in his features, and efficiency 
written in every muscle-play of his magnificent body. 
A strong man, you would remark at first sight, a 
strong man, physically and morally. Bah! the 
strength of man a phrase, words, bubble! He had 
the body, the jaw, the presence a mere shell. The 
weakness was there, anyhow, some little spot of blight 
within, I don t know just what; it might have been 
a touch of the romantic merely that glowed some 
times in the liquidity of his brown eyes. 

" He was one of life s fortunates, too. Belonged to 
a good family in the States New Englanders, rep 
utable and cold and narrow, stiff with rectitude as 
their own rock-ribbed coasts. Well educated, had 
gone to college, had played football, et cetera. Well, 
he came over here with the Volunteers. Easy to read 
after that. First, fervent, romantic patriotism, then 



HER READING 55 

mad exasperation, then mere cold cynical brutality. 
Two years of loosening of fiber in the promiscuity of 
camp, of reversion to type in butchery of field. When 
the Volunteers returned, he did not go with them. 
The tropics had him by that time, had penetrated his 
heart with their pernicious charm the charm of 
their languorous amorality, the charm of power : we 
whites here, as in some insane asylums, we re all kings. 
He stayed. 

" He went into the Constabulary, behaved rather 
well there, too. When I first saw him he had just re 
turned from an expedition and his name was in all 
mouths. His command had proved faithless, and he 
had fought his way back, through enemy and friend, 
through incredible suffering. It was fine but it was 
the shell. Inside was the spot of blight. And it began 
to spread, by imperceptible degrees. You could 
hardly see the progress, you know only by taking 
periods far apart, and then it hit you with a shock. 
Finally he was at the last step you know the step I 
mean, the last one. 

" You could tell it by an exaggeration of outer 
form, of outer cleanliness, by a stiffening, as it were, 
of the shell. The whiteness of his suits became 
extraordinary ; they glistened with starch ; they but 
toned up to the ears. He flourished his swagger stick 
like a general; at the club he bore himself with ag- 



56 CAYBIGAN 

gressive stiffness, with a febrile hauteur that chal 
lenged the world. 

" I suppose it wasn t all corrosion of moral fiber. 
Perhaps that deplorable touch of romance in the man 
was partly responsible. You know love, free, un 
trammelled love, in the tropics, beneath the palms ; 
between the cynical, blase, complicated man of civili 
sation and the maid, the charming, ingenuous maiden, 
half savage, half child a miserable hodge-podge 
vision of love, spices, bananas, bamboos, coral 
reefs 

" I stumbled upon the establishment by chance. 
It was cholera time ; I had been detailed as inspector. 
It was very sordid, really. No hut beneath the palms ; 
two rooms in the Walled City. Disorder, untidiness, 
moral lassitude there. No wonder he stiffened up out 
side. And she was not even pretty. Her eyes, slightly 
oblique, were closely set together, which gave her an 
extraordinary calculating air. While he romanced 
I suppose that he did ; I hope that he did she seemed 
counting, ceaselessly counting the Mex. that might 
come to her out of that affair. The only redeeming 
thing that I saw redeeming, I mean, from a purely 
plastic standpoint was a beautiful, liquid-eyed 
child they had there her sister. You catch my dis 
tinction. It wasn t at all redeeming from another 



HER READING 57 

point of view that child there in the shame of their 
lives. Everything else might have been pardonable 
but that 

" After a while even the outer shell began to show 
it. His white suits lost their impeccability; often he 
left the upper button open. Sometimes he wore his 
khaki without leggings. He didn t shave often 
enough. A vague sordidness began to creep over him 
like mould. 

" He drank. Not steadily ; but about once a week 
he marched into the club with his hostile swagger 
(mind you, the swagger was all against himself; 
nobody knew of his situation ; he did not know that 
I knew) ; he sat down resolutely at one of the tables 
and called for drink after drink, which he swallowed 
with the same strange, decided, inflexible manner, 
as if he were doing something of absolute importance, 
something that he must do in spite of the world, in 
spite of himself. He kept that up, a frown between 
his eyes as if from tremendous mental effort, hour 
after hour, sometimes till the whiteness of dawn. 
Then he rose suddenly, clicked his heels together, 
and stalked off, seemingly unaffected. 

" One evening, as he came in thus, I was sitting 
alone on the veranda. He gave me a casual glance, 
walked straight on a few steps, then, swerving sud- 



58 CAYBIGAN 

denly, settled in the seat next to mine. He said noth 
ing at first, just sat there, a black bar between his 
eyes, seizing glass after glass which the muchachos, 
by that time well trained, ran up to him. Then he 
began to speak. 

" He spoke about Her ! Of course, at that time I 
did not know of her existence. I was bewildered; I 
thought he spoke of the other one, the one in the 
Walled City. Then as I understood, I was shocked 
as by a desecration. 

" It s four years ago, Courtland, that I told her 
good-by, he said, soberly, leaning over and placing 
a hand upon my knee. * She was in the gar 
den, in the dew of the morning, and she was picking 
roses. 

" He was silent a long time. I was dumb, 
astounded; a sense of sacrilege filled my being. He 
began again: 

" Her eyes are green, Courtland, green like the 
sea. And she can read into my soul, Courtland, right 
into my soul ! 

" Another period of silence, and then : 

" " I am yours ; whenever you need me I shall 
come to you." That is what she said. 

" He jerked forward over the table, his head in his 
hands. A horrible spiritual discomfort crept into me. 
I didn t want to hear about it ; I didn t ! I wanted to 



HER READING 59 

hush him, push my hand against that blasphemous 
mouth 

" * And I left her in the garden, in the dew of the 
morning, among the roses ! 

" He rose stiffly, drew his hands from his face, 
down to his sides, as if with great effort, squared his 
shoulders, snapped his heels together, and marched 
off as he had come in. 

" Thus I first saw her, and always after saw her, 
in indelible picture a frail young girl, of eyes with 
the sea-glint in them, picking roses in the dewy 
morning. Roses ! thousands of them red and white 
and yellow ; they are at her feet, at her sides, above 
her ; their petals are in her hair, their incense is about 
her like an adoration. 

" I saw him off and on after that, but he never 
mentioned her again for which I was thankful. The 
disintegration was going on. Those black periods of 
revolt were less frequent now. Professionally he was 
still strong, had had the honour of being placed on 
the Katipunan s blacklist, the honour of carrying 
proudly, like an iron corselet, an exterior of cold 
indifference above the inward tension of every 
moment. 

" And then came that night. 

" Yes, that s the night, the night of which you all 
know something. But I know more ; he told me every- 



60 CAYBIGAN 

thing, that one time he talked, his lips unsealed in a 
burst of hysteria. 

" He awoke, that night, smothered beneath the 
black weight of some indefinite discomfort. Instinc 
tively his right hand slipped beneath his pillow and 
closed upon the Mauser pistol ; but when he had lived 
thus a full minute, his fingers clutched about the 
stock, his breath convulsive in his throat, he slowly 
released the weapon with a sigh that was not relief. 
For it was not from the Katipunan warning that came 
this vague oppression that through his sleep had 
wrapped him as in a shroud ; it was something deeper, 
more subtle and more intimate; it was interfibred 
with his innermost being, and it was torture. 

" He fought the haunting thing. It was a terrible 
night. The heat lay upon him like a catafalque. The 
enfevering rumour of moat -born gnats clung to the 
netting surrounding him; from the patio-hall there 
came the weary cough of a muchacho, stretched in his 
toil-damp clothes upon the polished floor. Outside, 
between the conch-shell shutters of the veranda the 
horizon was luminous with the moon ; a beam stole 
into the steaming darkness of the room. It flashed 
up the mosquito bar into shimmering vapour ; blandly 
it began a pointing-out of details, the inexorable de 
tails of his life s vulgarity. A nausea shook his being ; 
he slipped to the floor and out to the balcony. 



HER READING 61 

" Beneath the moon Manila was agleani. The whole 
firmament was liquid with the light; it poured down 
like luminous rain, slid in cascades over the church 
domes, the tin roofs, the metallic palms, till the whole 
earth shimmered back to the skies. In the entire city 
only one spot gloomed the old fort, mysterious and 
pestilential with its black oozing walls, its fever- 
belting moat ; but beyond it, as if in exasperation at 
this stubborn nonconformity, the brightness broke out 
again triumphant in the glimmering sheen of the 
bay. 

" But from that serenity he turned, and he looked 
back, he had to look back. He peered into the room 
of infamy, peered at the bed, rising black and monu 
mental in the farther depths, at the heaps of clothing 
here and there in cynical promiscuity, at the pile of 
greasy cooking utensils upon the stand, at the whole 
ensemble of disorder, weakness, moral lassitude. Pas- 
sionlessly the light was sweeping all this, plucking 
out of the shadow one by one the detestable details. 
It stole toward the right wall, fell upon a cot, and 
from it there emerged a white little form that came 
hesitatingly to him. It was Magdalena, the child, the 
sister of Maria. 

" She had been with them long. But now, suddenly, 
her presence there, in that atmosphere of sin, struck 
him with a great shock. 



62 CAYBIGAN 

" Back, he whispered ; back to bed, chiquita ; 
it s time to be sleeping. 

" But she wanted something a lock of his hair. 
Maria had one ; she wanted one also. 

" He remembered that she had asked this before, 
with childish insistence. He had not given much at 
tention to it. And really, in all probability, it was 
mere childish whim. But now the thing staggered 
him, like something monstrous. Who could tell what 
there was in the mind of that child, with great won 
der-eyes open to the shamelessness of his life. He 
chided her harshly and sent her scampering back to 
her bed. 

" Then, turning his back upon the room, upon all 
this sordid misery, he looked out upon the waters. 
And a ship, a white army transport, was coming 
in. Slowly it glided between the ghostlike silhouettes 
of vessels at anchor; it turned ponderously; there 
was a splash of phosphorescence at the bow, a 
running clang of chain through hawse. He did 
not know what that craft held for him, ah, no! 
You know, don t you? He did not; but suddenly 
his whole spiritual being tugged within him, sprang 
back the long, solitary path of the ship, back across 
the moonlit bay, past Corregidor, out into the sea, 
along the foamy track, back miles in thousands to a 
harder, cleaner land, to a little California town em- 



HER READING 63 

bowered in scented hills, and it threw itself at the feet 
of a girl the girl he had left among the roses, 
whose eyes could read into his soul. 

" The moon went out behind a cloud. He had slid 
to the floor and lay there, his head upon his arm. 
Then he told me that later he heard somebody 
hickup, hickup hard, metallically. After a while he 
discovered that it was he. He was sobbing. And long 
in the enfevered darkness there pulsed that strange, 
hard hickup of the man with the iron hand of woe 
upon his throat. 

" He must have fallen asleep at last ; when he awoke 
again a sense of danger weighed upon his whole body 
like lead. He was stretched full length, his face 
downward upon his arms, and although he did no t 
turn his head to see, he knew that it was dark, pitch 
dark. It seemed to him that a moment ago something 
cold and steely had touched his temple. 

" He lay thus, it seemed to him a long time, mo 
tionless, while his heart-pulse rose in crescendo till 
it almost suffocated him. For to his ears, along the 
sound-conducting floor, there came a faint, soft rus 
tle of something, somebody crawling. A mad desire 
to rise, shout, attack, break the silent horror of the 
moment, thrilled him, but fear laid its cold, paralys 
ing hand upon him, and he could not move. 

" Suddenly the spell was broken. A click as of a 



64 CAYBIGAN 

knife falling from the hand of an assassin to the 
floor shot the blood through his veins as by chemical 
reaction. With a shout he had sprung to his feet, 
darted across the room, and seized the Mauser be 
neath his pillow. He turned his eyes upon the floor 
and in the center caught sight of a vague, crouching 
form. A shot rang into his ears, vibrated in pain 
along each of his nerves, and then he was leaning 
back against the bed-post, limp and cold, sick with 
the sense of mistake, mistake hideous and irre 
trievable. 

" He stayed there, against the bedpost, limp and 
cold, his eyes straining through the darkness at the 
vague huddle in the centre of the room. He knew 
that Maria had awakened with a scream, that she had 
struck a light, that she was bending over the name 
less thing, and he felt a strange relief as her broad 
back hid it from view. But she returned toward him 
and put her dilated eyes, her brown face, fear- 
spotted, near his own, and she whispered, hoarsely, 
Magdalena ! 5 

" But this was only confirmation of what his whole 
being was crying to him, and he was busy listening to 
something else, listening to the crack of a Mauser 
pistol tearing through his brain, and then springing 
out into the silent night, echoing, swelling, thunder 
ing in fierce crescendo down the hushed streets, rever- 



HER READING 65 

berated from wall to wall, rushing, a tidal wave of 
sound, into every house and nook and crevice, shout 
ing, proclaiming, shrieking with its iron voice the 
story of his life, of his degradation, till the whole 
city, ringing from the call, hurled it on and on across 
the sea into Her ears, the heralding trumpet-call of 
his dishonour, of his fall, of his degradation. 

" But Maria was speaking. Hush, she whispered ; 
* do not tell. We can hide. Martinez will help us. 
To-morrow we ll bury her. It s the cholera ; the health 
men will believe you ; nobody will look close. 

" Together they went back to the spot. Kneeling 
low, he gathered the little girl up in his arms. Some 
thing fell with a steely clang to the floor. He picked 
it up; it was a pair of scissors. Something eddied 
down slowly from her other hand; it was a lock of 
his own hair. He stood there, with the limp little 
body in his arms, stupid with the sudden vision of 
the trap set for him, the trap of retributive Fate, its 
appalling simplicity of means, its atrocity of result. 
But he must act. Hurriedly seizing his old, moth- 
eaten, army overcoat, he began to button it upon 
himself. Maria was talking again. 

" Hush, she said ; do not tell. We can hide. 
Martinez will help us. We ll bury her to-morrow. It s 
the cholera. The health men will believe you; and 
nobody will dare look close. 



66 CAYBIGAN 

" He stopped, with his hand upon the last brass 
button, his head bent to one side, listening to the 
insidious murmur. And he knew that it was true, 
hellishly true. The great stricken city, hypnotised 
with its fear, was indifferent to everything else. The 
whole thing could be hidden, buried, annihilated. 
Then he saw himself again as he had been earlier in 
the night, standing in the moonlight of the balcony, 
peering into the room, into the depths of his degra 
dation. No, no, enough, enough ! he snarled. And, 
seizing the little body with its possible spark of life, 
he rushed out into the street. 

" The dawn was breaking. Bareheaded, barefooted, 
he raced silently along the endless, narrow streets. 
He passed long files of white-garbed men the cigar- 
makers on the way to the factories ; they scattered 
before him in fear. The naked muchachos were gal 
loping their ponies to the beach for their morning 
bath ; they circled wide as they came upon him. At a 
plaza he tried to hail a carromata, but the cochero 
whipped up his horse in a frenzy of distrust. It was 
cholera time, and cold egoism ruled the city. He told 
me of it, that one time. I was alone, Courtland, 
alone, alone. None would near me, none would hear 
me. They fled, they fled. I was alone, alone with my 
crime in my arms, with my story in my arms, the 
story of my life, of my degradation; alone, Court- 



HER READING 67 

land, with my temptation, my temptation, Court- 
land A vacuum formed about him as he raced 

on, cutting his feet upon the stones, panting with the 
physical effort and the spiritual horror, on and on 
through narrow streets long as death. He came 
to a quay, a silent, dark place in the shadow of the 
city wall, and there his temptation slowed him up. 
Maria was right. It was cholera time; the great 
amoral city was indifferent to everything else. The 
little body with its possible spark of life this infini 
tesimal possibility which demanded of him such stu 
pendous self-immolation could be dropped quietly 
into the river, to stream out there into the unfathom 
able secret of the bay. And She would never know, 
She would never know! 

" She ! He saw her as he had left her, in the gar 
den, in the dewy morning. Her eyes were steadily 
upon him. * Enough ! Enough ! he cried, with a 
growl, as that of a wild beast. 

" He passed along a crooked bridge. At the end 
a big Metropolitan policeman stepped to him with 
a question, but he rushed past with a vague mutter 
ing. The policeman hesitated a moment, then fol 
lowed; and behind the patter of the bare feet the 
heavy boots echoed, pounding in patient pursuit. At 
last he stood beneath the pale, sputtering light of the 
hospital porch, striking feverishly at the great doors. 



68 CAYBIGAN 

They opened before him and he entered, the police 
man at his heels. A man took his burden quickly as he 
sank on the bench, and disappeared through a small 
door at the end of the hall. A gong clanged twice in 
quick succession, then once more, and as if in answer 
two white-jacketed men came down the stairs, passed 
across the hall, and vanished into the room where the 
first man had gone. A silence fell over the place. 
The big clock against the staircase ticked resound 
ingly. The policeman leaned back against the wall 
and examined the man huddled there upon the bench 
with curious glance. 

" After a time long as eternity, one of the white- 
jacketed men came out into the hall and stood in 
front of Morton. Morton looked up at him in a great 
question, but the man did not seem to see it. 

" Er, er, he drawled, as if embarrassed. Then 
suddenly, Who shot her? 

" I did, answered Morton. 

" Er, er with what? 

" Mauser pistol thirty-eight. 

" Yes, yes, acquiesced the man. * And how old did 
you say she was ? * 

" For Christ s sake, broke out Morton, in sudden 
cry ; how is she ; is she dead ; is there any hope? 

" Why, yes ; of course, she is dead, answered the 
man, as if shocked that there should be any doubt 



HER READING 69 

about it. Then he turned to the policeman, as if say 
ing, I ve done my part ; the rest belongs to you. 

" But Morton had risen, stiffened with the vision 
of what there was left for him to do. 

" I m Morton, he said to the policeman ; * second- 
class Inspector, Luzon Constabulary. I did the shoot 
ing. It was a mistake. I m going to my room to 
dress ; then I ll report to my chief ; and after that 
I ll surrender myself to the Metropolitan Police. You 
can follow if you wish. 

" The policeman hesitated a moment, subjugated 
by the man s manner. It s all right, he said ; you 
can go ; I ll telephone to headquarters. 

" And as Morton went out he saw the policeman 
step to the telephone-box at the end of the hall. And 
he knew that with the puerile, nasal voice of the wire 
the heralding had begun. 

" Outside, the sun was already pouring its bitter 
ness upon the gleaming city, and the streets were 
fermenting with feverish humanity white-garbed 
men, hurrying to the factories, bright-camisaed 
women going to the market with baskets upon their 
heads, naked-busted cargadores with gleaming mus 
cles. Morton plunged ahead through the throng, 
which broke before him with sullen acquiescence to 
the right of the strong. The exaltation of the night 
had given place to a strange stupor. His head wab- 



70 CAYBIGAN 

bled on his shoulders, empty as a sleighbell, and a 
great weariness was in his limbs. Slowly he retraced 
the long course of the night through the indifferent 
crowds. He met only one white man that he knew, in 
a narrow, disreputable alley. The man stopped him, 
astonished. 

" What are you doing in a place like this ? he 
asked. * You forget you re on the Katipunan. You re 
liable to get hurt. 

" Hurt? Morton laughed in his face and left 
him standing there bewildered. At last he entered the 
patio of his house. Everything was as usual. The 
cocheros were washing down their carromatas pre 
paratory to going out ; the muchachos were galloping 
back, their ponies flanks gleaming with salt water. 
No one gave him a glance as he went upstairs to his 
room. 

" He entered it without a tremor and looked stu 
pidly about him. The place reeked with the sordid 
disorder of every morning ; of the sudden horror of 
the night there was only one sign a blanket had 
been thrown carelessly over a certain spot in the cen 
tre of the room. He turned to his clothes-chest and 
began to dress. He worked slowly, losing time on 
unimportant details. It took him a long time to 
choose the white suit that he would wear amid the 
dozen that he spread on the bed, and then he was still 



HER READING 71 

longer putting in the buttons. When he was dressed 
he noticed that he had to shave, and called for his 
boy. The boy did not come, and then he saw that 
several familiar objects were missing from the room. 
He opened Maria s drawer; it was empty. She had 
gone, and probably taken the boy with her. He lit 
the coal-oil stove upon the cooking-stand, heated 
water, and shaved. Finally he was ready. He went 
downstairs, jumped into a carromata that was just 
rattling out of the court, and drove to the In- 
tendencia. 

" The Chief let him into his inner office immediately. 
Looking down upon his superior seated at his desk, 
Morton told the night s story in dry, monotonous 
manner, as a story told already a hundred times, and 
he noticed, as he talked, that the Chief knew already 
all about it, but was too polite to interrupt. When 
he had done, the Chief spoke. 

" * Yes, he said ; * it s too bad, too bad. But you 
must brace up, take it like a man. We all live differ 
ently here than we would at home, and things like 
that are liable to happen. Yes, it s too bad. You 
must brace up. 

" He stopped, then went on again. * It s too bad, 
too bad. I suppose er that you are going to sur 
render yourself to the Metropolitan. Mere matter of 
form, of course 



72 CAYBIGAN 

" Yes, said Morton, wearily. He turned to go. 
The Chief was speaking again. 

" * By the way, he was saying, his eyes close to 
gether in a perplexed frown ; somebody has been 
here for you this morning, several times, yes, several 
times. I you 

" But Morton, after standing politely a moment 
without hearing, had gone out, leaving the Chief 
frowning perplexedly at his desk. He went through 
the corridor, into the outer office, and then 

" I was there. That part he did not tell me. I 
came in behind him (I was following him with I don t 
know what notion of comfort). I saw him stop sud 
denly. A woman stood before him. 

" It was She. I knew her right away, the pale, 
sweet girl, the girl of the roses. She was standing be 
fore him ; and her eyes, the eyes with the sea-glint 
in them, were plunging into his soul. He did not 
shrink; he stood there before her, his eyes in hers, 
his shoulders thrown back, his arms hanging limp 
down his sides, with palms turned outward in a ges 
ture of utter surrender. Long, gravely she read the 
soul laid bare before her. Suddenly she started back, 
one, two steps, heavy, falling steps ; as at the same 
higher command he also backed, one, two steps, heavy, 
falling steps. His head dropped to his chest, his eyes 
closed. I panted. 



HER READING 73 

" With an imperceptible movement she glided for 
ward again. His eyes opened. She laid her right 
hand upon his shoulder. 

" * You have suffered, she said. 

" And there you are ! " 

The darkness had deepened ; Courtland was invisi 
ble; but we could picture the gesture a wide sweep 
of the arm outward, ending in a discouraged droop. 
" I ve explained nothing, pointed out nothing, merely 
retold it to you as I repeat and repeat it to myself, 
merely to have at which to stare and stare. And it 
always ends in this: I see her again, always; I see 
her glide to him, note the sweet gravity of her ges 
ture, the tremulous profundity of her glance. I 
hear that phrase, that holy, incomprehensible phrase. 
And I wonder, I wonder, that s all ; and an awe 
seizes me, bends me down low, as if before something 
big, terrible, and infinitely sacred." 






IV 

THE STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPH OF 
ISIDRO DE LOS MAESTROS 

I FACE ,TO FACE WITH THE FOE 

RETURNING to his own town, after a morning 
spent in " working up " the attendance of one of his 
far and recalcitrant barrio-schools, the Maestro of 
Balangilang was swaying with relaxed muscle and 
half-closed eyes to the allegretto trot of his little 
native pony, when he pulled up with a start, wide 
awake and all his senses on the alert. Through his 
somnolence, at first in a low hum, but fast rising in a 
fiendish crescendo, there had come a buzzing sound, 
much like that of one of the sawmills of his Cali 
fornia forests, and now, as he sat in the saddle, erect 
and tense, the thing ripped the air in ragged tear, 
shrieked vibrating into his ear, and finished its course 
along his spine in delicious irritation. 

" Oh, where am I? " murmured the Maestro, blink 
ing ; but between blinks he caught the flashing green 
of the palay fields and knew that he was far from the 
sawmills of the Golden State. So he raised his nose 

74 



STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPH 75 

to heaven, and there, afloat above him in the serene 
blue, was the explanation. It was a kite, a great 
locust-shaped kite, darting and swooping in the hot 
monsoon, and from it, dropping plumb, came the 
abominable clamour. 

" Aha ! " exclaimed the Maestro, pointing accus 
ingly at the thin line vaguely visible against the sky 
line in a diagonal running from the kite above him to 
a point ahead in the road. " Aha ! there s something 
at the end of that ; there s Attendance at the end of 
that!" 

With which significant remark he leaned forward 
in the saddle, bringing his switch down with a whizz 
behind him. The pony gave three rabbit leaps and 
then settled down to his drumming little trot. As 
they advanced, the line overhead dropped gradually. 
Finally the Maestro had to swerve the horse aside to 
save his helmet. He pulled up to a walk, and, a few 
yards further, came to the spot where string met 
earth in the expected Attendance. 

The Attendance was sitting on the ground, his 
legs spread before him in an angle of forty-five 
degrees, each foot arched in a secure grip of a bunch 
of cogon grass. These legs were bare as far up as 
they went, and, in fact, no trace of clothing was 
reached until the eye met the lower fringe of an 
indescribable undershirt modestly veiling the upper 



76 CAYBIGAN 

half of a rotund little paunch; an indescribable un 
dershirt, truly, for observation could not reach the 
thing itself, but only the dirt incrusting it so that it 
hung together, rigid as a knight s iron corselet, in 
spite of monstrous tears and rents. Between the 
teeth of the Attendance was a long, thick cheroot, 
wound about with hemp fiber, at which he pulled with 
rounded mouth. Hitched around his right wrist was 
the kite string, and between his legs a stick spindled 
with an extra hundred yards. At intervals he hauled 
hand-over-hand upon the taut line, and then the 
landscape vibrated to the buzz-saw song which had 
so compellingly recalled the Maestro to his eternal 
pursuit. 

As the shadow of the horse fell upon him, the 
Attendance brought his eyes down from their heav 
enly contemplation, and fixed them upon the rider. 
A tremor of dismay, mastered as soon as born, flitted 
over him; then, silently, with careful suppression of 
all signs of haste, he reached for a big stone with his 
little yellow paw, then for a stick lying farther off. 
Using the stone as a hammer, he drove the stick into 
the ground with deliberate stroke, wound the string 
around it with tender solicitude, and then, everything 
being secure, just as the Maestro was beginning his 
usual embarrassing question : 

" Why are you not at school, eh? " 



STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPH 77 

He drew up his feet beneath him, straightened up 
like a jack-in-the-box, took a hop-skip-jump, and. 
with a flourish of golden heels, flopped head first into 
the roadside ditch s rank luxuriance. 

" The little devil ! " exclaimed the disconcerted 
Maestro. He dismounted and, leading his horse, 
walked up to the side of the ditch. It was full of the 
water of the last baguio. From the edge of the cane- 
field on the other side there cascaded down the bank 
a mad vegetation; it carpeted the sides and arched 
itself above in a vault. Within this natural harbour 
a carabao was soaking blissfully. Only its head 
emerged, flat with the water, the great horns 
wreathed incongruously with the floating lilies, 
the thick nostrils exhaling ecstasy in shuddering 
riplets. 

Filled with a vague sense of the ridiculous, the 
Maestro peered into the recess. " The little devil ! " 
he murmured : " He s somewhere in here ; but how 
am I to get him, I d like to know? Do you see him. 
eh, Mathusalem? " he asked of the stolid beast. 

Whether in answer to this challenge or to some 
other irritant, the animal slowly opened one eye and 
ponderously let it fall shut again in what, to the 
heated imagination of the Maestro, seemed a patron 
ising wink. Its head slid quietly along the water; 
puffs of ooze rose from below and spread on the 



78 CAYBIGAN 

surface. Then, in the silence, there rose a signi 
ficant sound a soft, repeated snapping of the 
tongue : 

" Cluck, cluck." 

" Aha ! " shouted the Maestro, triumphantly, to his 
invisible audience. " I know where you are, you 
scamp ; right behind the carabao ; come out of there, 
pronto, dale-dale! " 

But his enthusiasm was of short duration. To the 
commanding tongue-click the carabao had stopped 
dead-still and a silence heavy with defiance met the 
too-soon exultant cries. An insect in the foliage be 
gan a creaking call, and then all the creatures of 
humidity hidden there among this fermenting vegeta 
tion joined in mocking chorus. 

The Maestro felt a vague blush welling up from 
the innermost recesses of his being. 

" I m going to get that kid," he muttered, darkly, 
" if I have to wait till the coming of Common Sense 
to the Manila office! By gum, he s the Struggle for 
Attendance personified ! " 

He sat down on the bank and waited. This did not 
prove interesting. The animals of the ditch creaked 
on ; the carabao bubbled up the water with his deep 
content; above, the abandoned kite went through 
strange acrobatics and wailed as if in pain. The 
Maestro dipped his hand into the water ; it was hike- 



STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPH 79 

warm. " No hope of a freeze out," he murmured, 
pensively. 

Behind, the pony began to pull at the reins. 

" Yes, little horse, I m tired, too. Well," he said, 
apologetically, " I hate to get energetic, but there 
are circumstances which " 

The end of his sentence was lost, for he had whisked 
out the big Colt, dissuader of ladrones, that hung on 
his belt, and was firing. The six shots went off like 
a bunch of firecrackers, but far from at random, for 
a regular circle boiled up around the dozing carabao. 
The disturbed animal snorted, and again a discreet 
" cluck-cluck " rose in the sudden, astounded silence. 

" This," said the Maestro, as he calmly introduced 
fresh cartridges into the chambers of his smoking 
weapon, " is what might be called an application of 
Western solutions to Eastern difficulties." 

Again he brought his revolver down, but he raised 
it without shooting and replaced it in its holster. 
From beneath the carabao s rotund belly, below the 
surface, an indistinct form shot out ; cleaving the 
water like a polliwog, it glided for the bank, and then 
a black, round head emerged at the feet of the 
Maestro. 

" All right, bub ; we ll go to school now," said the 
latter, nodding to the dripping figure as it rose be 
fore him. 



80 CAYBIGAN 

He lifted the sullen brownie and straddled him 
forward of the saddle, then proceeded to mount him 
self, when the Capture began to display marked agita 
tion. He squirmed and twisted, turned his head back 
and up, and finally a grunt escaped him. 

" El velador." 

" The kite, to be sure ; we mustn t forget the kite," 
acquiesced the Maestro, graciously. He pulled up 
the anchoring stick and laboriously, beneath the hos- 
tilely critical eye of the Capture, he hauled in the 
line till the screeching, resisting flying-machine was 
brought to earth. Then he vaulted into the saddle. 

The double weight was a little too much for the 
pony ; so it was at a dignified walk that the Maestro, 
his naked, dripping, muddy and still defiant prisoner 
a-straddle in front of him, the captured kite passed 
over his left arm like a knightly shield, made his tri 
umphal entry into the pueblo. 

II HEROISM AND REVERSES 

When Maestro Pablo rode down Rizal-y-Washing- 
ton Street to the schoolhouse with his oozing, drip 
ping prize between his arms, the kite like a knightly 
escutcheon against his left side, he found that in 
spite of his efforts at preserving a modest, self- 
deprecatory bearing, his spine would stiffen and his 






STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPH 81 

nose point upward in the unconscious manifestations 
of an internal feeling- that there was in his attitude 
something picturesquely heroic. Not since walking 
down the California campus one morning after the 
big game, won three minutes before the blowing of the 
final whistle by his fifty-yard run-in of a punt, had 
he been in that posture at once pleasant and diffi 
cult in which one s vital concern is to wear a humil 
ity sufficiently convincing to obtain from friends for 
giveness for the crime of being great. 

A series of incidents immediately following, how 
ever, made the thing quite easy. 

Upon bringing the new recruit into the school- 
house, to the perfidiously expressed delight of the 
already incorporated, the Maestro called his native 
assistant to obtain the information necessary to a 
full matriculation. At the first question the inquisi 
tion came to a deadlock. The boy did not know his 
name. 

" In Spanish times," the Assistant suggested, mod 
estly, " we called them de los Reyes when the father 
was of the army, and 4 de la Cruz when the father 
was of the church ; but now, we can never know what 
it is." 

The Maestro dashed to a solution. " All right," 
he said, cheerily. " I caught him ; guess I can give 
him a name. Call him Isidro de los Maestros." 



82 CAYBIGAN 

And thus it was that the urchin went down on the 
school records, and on the records of life after 
ward. 

Now well pleased with himself, the Maestro, as is 
the wont of men in such state, sought for further 
enjoyment. 

" Ask him," he said, teasingly, pointing with his 
chin at the newly-baptised but still unregenerate little 
savage, " why he came out of the ditch." 

" He says he was afraid that you would steal the 
kite," answered the Assistant, after some linguistic 
sparring. 

" Eh? " ejaculated the surprised Maestro. 

And in his mind there framed a picture of himself 
riding along the road with a string between his 
fingers ; and, following in the upper layers of air, a 
buzzing kite ; and, down in the dust of the highway, 
an urchin trudging wistfully after the kite, drawn on 
irresistibly, in spite of his better judgment, on and 
on, horrified but fascinated, up to the yawning school- 
door. 

It would have been the better way. " I ought to go 
and soak my head," murmured the Maestro, pensively. 

This was check number one, but others came in 
quick succession. 

For, the morning after this incident, the Maestro 
did not find Isidro among the weird, wild crowd gath- 



STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPH 83 

ered into the annex (a transformed sugar storehouse) 
by the last raid of the Municipal Police. 

Neither was Isidro there the next day, nor the next. 
And it was not till a week had passed that the Maes 
tro discovered, with an inward blush of shame, that 
his much-longed-for pupil was living in the little hut 
behind his own house. There would have been nothing 
shameful in the overlooking there were seventeen 
other persons sharing the same abode were it not 
that the nipa front of this human hive had been 
blown away by the last baguio, leaving an unob 
structed view of the interior, if it might be called 
such. As it was, the Municipal Police was mobilised 
at the urgent behest of the Maestro. Its " cabo," 
flanked by two privates armed with old German 
needle-guns, besieged the home and, after an inter 
esting game of hide-and-go-seek, Isidro was finally 
caught by one arm and one ear, and ceremoniously 
marched to school. And there the Maestro asked him 
why he had not been attending. 

" No hay pantalones," (there are no pants), Isidro 
answered, dropping his eyes modestly to the ground. 

This was check number two, and unmistakably so, 
for was it not a fact that a civil commission, over- 
zealous in its civilising ardour, had passed a law 
commanding that everyone should wear, when in pub 
lic, " at least one garment, preferably trousers " ? 



84 CAYBIGAN 

Following this, and an unsuccessful plea to the 
town tailor, who was on a three weeks vacation on 
account of the death of a fourth cousin, the Maestro 
shut himself up a whole day with Isidro in his little 
nipa house ; and behind the closely-shut shutters en 
gaged in some mysterious toil. When they emerged 
again the next morning, Isidro wended his way to 
the school at the end of the Maestro s arm, trousered ! 

The trousers, it must be said, had a certain cachet 
of distinction. They were made of calico-print, with 
a design of little black skulls sprinkled over a yellow 
background. Some parts hung flat and limp as if 
upon a scarecrow; others pulsed like a fire-hose in 
action with the pressure of flesh compressed beneath, 
while at other points they bulged pneumatically in 
little footballs. The right leg dropped to the ankle ; 
the left stopped, discouraged, a few inches below the 
knee. The seams looked like the putty mountain- 
chains of the geography class. As the Maestro strode 
along he threw rapid glances at his handiwork, and 
it was plain that the emotions that moved him were 
somewhat mixed in character. His face showed traces 
of a puzzled diffidence, as that of a man who has come 
in a sack-coat to a full-dress affair; but after all 
it was satisfaction that predominated, for after this 
heroic effort he had decided that Victory had at last 
perched upon his banners. 



STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPH 85 

And it really looked so for a time. Isidro stayed 
at school at least during that first day of his trou 
sered life. For when the Maestro, later in the fore 
noon, paid a visit to the Annex, he found the Assist 
ant in charge standing disconcerted before the urchin 
who, with eyes indignant and hair perpendicular upon 
the top of his head, was evidently holding to his side 
of the argument with his customary energy. 

Isidro was trouserless. Sitting rigid upon his 
bench, holding on with both hands as if in fear of 
being removed, he dangled naked legs to the sight of 
who might look. 

" Que barbaridad ! " murmured the Assistant, in 
limp dejection. 

But Isidro threw at him a look of black hatred. 
This became a tense, silent plea for justice as it 
moved up for a moment to the Maestro s face, and 
then it settled back upon its first object in frigid 
accusation. 

"Where are your trousers, Isidro?" asked the 
Maestro. 

Isidro relaxed his convulsive grasp of the bench 
with one hand, canted himself slightly to one side, 
just long enough to give an instantaneous view of the 
trousers, neatly folded and spread between what he 
was -sitting with and what he was sitting on, then 
swung back with the suddenness of a kodak shutter, 



86 CAYBIGAN 

seized his seat with new determination, and looked 
eloquent justification at the Maestro. 

" Why will you not wear them? " asked the latter. 

" He says he will not get them dirty," said the 
Assistant, interpreting the answer. 

" Tell him when they are dirty he can go down to 
the river and wash them," said the Maestro. 

Isidro pondered over the suggestion for two silent 
minutes. The prospect of a day spent splashing in 
the lukewarm waters of the Hog he finally put 
down as not at all detestable, and, getting up to his 
feet: 

" I will put them on," he said, gravely. 

Which he did on the moment, with an absence of 
hesitation as to which was front and which was back ? 
very flattering to the Maestro. 

That Isidro persevered during the next week, the 
Maestro also came to know. For now, regularly every 
evening, as he smoked and lounged upon his long, 
cane chair, trying to persuade his tired body against 
all laws of physics to give up a little of its heat to a 
circumambient atmosphere of temperature equally 
enthusiastic ; as he watched among the rafters of the 
roof the snakes swallowing the rats, the rats devour 
ing the lizards, the lizards snapping up the spiders, 
the spiders snaring the flies in eloquent representation 
of the life struggle, his studied passiveness would be 



STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPH 87 

broken by strange sounds from the dilapidated hut 
at the back of his house. A voice imitative of that of 
the Third Assistant who taught the annex, hurled 
forth questions which were immediately answered by 
another voice, curiously like that of Isidro. 

Fiercely: " Du yu ssee dde hhett? " 

Breathlessly : " Yiss I ssee dde hhett." 

Ferociously : " Show me dde hhett." 

Eagerly : " Here are dde hhett." 

Thunderously : " Gif me dde hhett." 

Exultantly : " I gif yu dde hhett." 

Then the Maestro would step to the window and 
look into the hut from which came this Socratic dia 
logue. And on this wall-less platform, which looked 
much like a primitive stage, a singular action was 
unrolling itself in the smoky glimmer of a two-cent 
lamp. The Third Assistant was not there at all ; but 
Isidro was the Third Assistant. And the pupil was 
not Isidro, but the witless old man who was one of the 
many sharers of the abode. In the voice of the Third 
Assistant, Isidro was hurling out the tremendous 
questions ; and, as the old gentleman who represented 
Isidro opened his mouth only to drule betel- juice, it 
was Isidro who, in Isidro s voice, answered the ques 
tions. In his role as Third Assistant he stood with 
legs akimbo before the pupil, a bamboo twig in his 
hand; as Isidro the pupil, he plumped down quickly 



88 CAYBIGAN 

upon the bench before responding. The sole function 
of the senile old man seemed that of representing the 
pupil while the question was being asked and receiv 
ing, in that capacity, a sharp cut across the nose 
from Isidro-the-Third- Assistant s switch, at which he 
chuckled to himself in silent and liquid joy. 

For several nights this performance went on with 
gradual increase of vocabulary in teacher and pupil. 
But when it had reached the " Do you see the apple- 
tree? " stage, it ceased to advance, marked time for 
a while, and then slowly but steadily began sliding 
back into primitive beginnings. This engendered in 
the Maestro a suspicion which became certainty when 
Isidro entered the schoolhouse, one morning just be 
fore recess, between two policemen at port arms. A 
rapid scrutiny of the rollbook showed that he had 
been absent a whole week. 

" I was at the river cleaning my trousers," an 
swered Isidro, when put face to face with this curious 
fact. 

The Maestro suggested that the precious panta 
loons, which, by the way, had been mysteriously em 
bellished by a red stripe down the right leg and a 
green stripe down the left leg, could be cleaned in less 
than a week, and that Saturday and Sunday were 
days specially set aside in the Catechismo of the 
Americanos for such little family duties. 



STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPH 89 

Isidro understood ; and the nightly rehearsals soon 
reached the stage of: 

" How menny hhetts hev yu ? " 

" I hev ten hhetts." 

Then came another arrest of development, and 
another decline, at the end of which Isidro, again 
making his appearance flanked by two German needle- 
guns, caused a blush of remorse to suffuse the Maes 
tro by explaining with frigid gravity that his mother 
had given birth to a little pickaninny brother and 
that, of course, he had had to help. 

But significant events in the family did not stop 
there. After birth, death stepped in for its due. 
Isidro s relatives began to drop off in rapid sequence 
each demise demanding three days of meditation in 
retirement till at last the Maestro, who had had the 
excellent idea of keeping upon paper a record of 
these unfortunate occurrences, was looking with stu 
por upon a list showing that Isidro had lost, within 
three weeks, two aunts, three grandfathers, and five 
grandmothers which, considering that an actual 
count proved the house of bereavement still able to 
boast of seventeen occupants, was plainly an 
exaggeration. 

Following a long sermon from the Maestro, in 
which he sought to explain to Isidro that he must 
always tell the truth for sundry philosophical reasons 



90 CAYBIGAN 

a statement which the First Assistant tactfully 
smoothed to something within range of credulity by 
translating it that one must not lie to Americanos, 
because Americanos do not like it there came a 
period of serenity. 

IH THE TRIUMPH 

There came to the Maestro days of peace and joy. 
Isidro was coming to school; Isidro was learning 
English. Isidro was steady, Isidro was docile, Isidro 
was positively so angelic that there was something 
uncanny about the situation. And with Isidro, other 
little savages were being pruned into the school-going 
stage of civilisation. Helped by the police, they were 
pouring in from barrio and hacienda ; the attendance 
was going up by leaps and bounds, till at last a circu- 
lative report showed that Balangilang had passed the 
odious Cabancalam with its less strenuous school 
man, and left it in the ruck by a full hundred. The 
Maestro was triumphant; his chest had gained two 
inches in expansion. When he met Isidro at recess, 
playing cibay, he murmured softly : " You little devil ; 
you were Attendance personified, and I ve got you 
now." At which Isidro, pausing in the act of throw 
ing a shell with the top of his head at another shell 
on the ground, looked up beneath long lashes in a 
smile absolutely seraphic. 



STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPH 91 

In the evening the Maestro, his heart sweet with 
content, stood at the window. These were moonlight 
nights ; in the grassy lanes the young girls played 
graceful Spanish games, winding like garlands to a 
gentle song ; from the shadows of the huts came the 
tinkle-tinkle of serenading guitars and yearning notes 
of violins wailing despairing love. And Isidro, seated 
on the bamboo ladder of his house, went through an 
independent performance. He sang " Good-night, 
Ladies," the last song given to the school, sang it in 
soft falsetto, with languorous drawls, and never-end 
ing organ points, over and over again, till it changed 
character gradually, dropped into a wailing minor, 
an endless croon full of the obscure melancholy of a 
race that dies. 

" Goo-oo-oo nigh-igh-igh loidies-ies-ies ; goo-oo-oo 
nigh-igh-igh loidies-ies-ies; goo-oo-oo-oo nigh-igh- 
igh loidies-ies-ies-ies," he repeated and repeated, over 
and over again, till the Maestro s soul tumbled down 
and down abysses of maudlin tenderness, and Isidro s 
chin fell upon his chest in a last drawling, sleepy note. 
At which he shook himself together and began the 
next exercise, a recitation, all of one piece from first to 
last syllable, in one high, monotonous note, like a 
mechanical doll saying " papa-mamma." 

" Oh-look-et-de-moon -she-ees-shinin -up-theyre-oh- 
mudder-she -look-like-a-lom-in-de -ayrc-lost-night-she- 



92 CAYBIGAN 

was -smalleyre -on-joos-like-a -bow-boot-now -she-ees- 
biggerr-on-rrraon-like-an-O." 

Then a big gulp of air, and again : 

" Oh-look -et -de -moon -she -ees -shinin -up -theyre, 
etc. " 

An hour of this, and he skipped from the lyric 
to the patriotic, and then it was : 

" I-loof-dde-name-off-Wash-ing-ton, 

I-loof-my-coontrrree-tow, 
I-loof-dde-fleg-dde-dear-owl-fleg, 
Off-rrid-on-whit-on-bloo-oo-oo ! " 

By this time the Maestro was ready to go to bed, 
and long in the torpor of the tropic night there came 
to him, above the hum of the mosquitoes fighting at 
the net, the soft, wailing croon of Isidro, back at his 
" Goo-oo-oo nigh-igh-igh loidies-ies-ies." 

These were days of ease and beauty to the Maestro, 
and he enjoyed them the more when a new problem 
came to give action to his resourceful brain. 

The thing was : For three days there had not been 
one funeral in Balangilang. 

In other climes, in other towns, this might have 
been a source of congratulation, perhaps, but not in 
Balangilang. There were rumours of cholera in the 
towns to the north, and the Maestro, as President of 



STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPH 93 

the Board of Health, was on the watch for it. Five 
deaths a day, experience had taught him, was the 
healthy average for the town ; and this sudden cessa 
tion of public burials he could not believe that dying 
had stopped was something to make him sus 
picious. 

It was over this puzzling situation that he was 
pondering at the morning recess, when his attention 
was taken from it by a singular scene. 

The " batas " of the school were flocking and push 
ing and jolting at the door of the basement, which 
served as stable for the municipal carabao. Elbowing 
his way to the spot, the Maestro found Isidro at the 
entrance, gravely taking up an admission of five 
shells from those who would enter. Business seemed 
to be brisk ; Isidro had already a big bandana hand 
kerchief bulging with ttfc receipts, which were now 
overflowing into a great tao hat, obligingly loaned 
him by one of his admirers, as one by one those lucky 
enough to have the price filed in, feverish curiosity 
upon their faces. 

The Maestro thought it might be well to go in also, 
which he did without paying admission. The disap 
pointed gatekeeper followed him. The Maestro found 
himself before a little pink-and-blue tissue-paper box, 
frilled with rosettes. 

" What have you in there? " asked the Maestro. 



94 CAYBIGAN 

" My brother," answered Isidro, sweetly. 

He cast his eyes to the ground and watched his big 
toe drawing vague figures in the earth, then, appeal 
ing to the First Assistant, who was present by this 
time, he added, in the tone of virtue which will be 
modest : 

" Maestro Pablo does not like it when I do not come 
to school on account of a funeral, so I brought him 
[pointing to the little box] with me." 

"Well, I ll be ," was the only comment the 

Maestro found adequate at the moment. 

" It is my little pickaninny brother," went on 
Isidro, becoming alive to the fact that he was a centre 
of interest ; " and he died last night of the great 
sickness." 

" The great what? " ejaculated the Maestro, who 
had caught a few words. 

" The great sickness," explained the Assistant. 
" That is the name by which these ignorant people 
call the cholera." 

For the next two hours the Maestro was very busy. 

Firstly he gathered the " batas " who had been 
rich enough to attend Isidro s little show and locked 
them up with the impresario himself in the little 
town jail close by. Then, after a vivid exhortation 
upon the beauties of boiling water and reporting dis 
ease, he dismissed the school for an indefinite period. 



STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPH 95 

After which, impressing the two town prisoners, now 
temporarily out of home, he shouldered Isidro s pretty 
box, tramped to the cemetery, and directed the dig 
ging of a grave six feet deep. When the earth had 
been scraped back upon the lonely little object, he 
returned to town and transferred the awe-stricken 
playgoers to his own house, where a strenuous per 
formance took place. 

Tolio, his boy, built a most tremendous fire outside 
and set upon it all the pots and pans and cauldrons 
and cans of his kitchen arsenal, filled with water. 
When these began to gurgle and steam, the Maestro 
set himself to stripping the horrified bunch in his 
room; one by one he threw the garments out of the 
window to Tolio, who, catching them, stuffed them 
into the receptacles, poking down their bulging pro 
test with a big stick. Then the Maestro mixed an 
awful brew in an old oilcan, and, taking the brush 
which was commonly used to sleek up his little pony, 
he dipped it generously into the pungent stuff and 
began an energetic scrubbing of his now absolutely 
panic-stricken wards. When he had done this to his 
satisfaction and thoroughly to their discontent, he 
let them put on their still steaming garments, and 
they slid out of the house, aseptic as hospitals. 

Isidro he kept longer. He lingered over him with 
loving and strenuous care, and after he had him 



96 CAYBIGAN 

externally clean proceeded to dose him internally 
from a little red bottle. Isidro took everything the 
terrific scrubbing, the exaggerated dosing, the ruin 
ous treatment of his pantaloons with wonder-eyed 
serenity. 

When all this was finished, the Maestro took the 
urchin into the dining-room and, seating him on his 
best bamboo chair, he courteously offered him a fine, 
dark perfecto. 

The next instant he was suffused with the light of a 
new revelation. For, stretching out his hard little 
claw to receive the gift, the boy had shot at him 
a glance so mild, so wistful, so brown-eyed, filled 
with such mixed admiration, trust, and appeal, that a 
a queer softness had risen in the Maestro from some 
where down in the regions of his heel, up and up, 
quietly, like the mercury in the thermometer, till it 
had flowed through his whole body and stood still, 
its high-water mark a little lump in his throat. 

" Why, Lord bless us-ones, Isidro," said the Maes 
tro, quietly. " We re only a child, after all, a 
mere baby, my man. And don t we like to go to 
school?" 

" Senor Pablo," asked the boy, looking up softly 
into the Maestro s still perspiring visage, " Senor 
Pablo, is it true that there will be no school because 
of the great sickness ? " 



STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPH 97 

"Yes, it is true," answered the Maestro. "No 
school for a long, long time." 

Then Isidro s mouth began to twitch queerly, and, 
suddenly throwing himself full length upon the floor, 
he hurled out from somewhere within him a long, 
tremulous wail. 






THE FAILURE 

OUT of the deadly stupor that encased him as a 
leaden coffin, Burke started with a gurgling cry. He 
thought that somebody was driving a red-hot poker 
into his eyeballs. He found only that the flaming 
globe of the rising sun had just emerged over the 
lorcha s bow bulwarks and was burrowing his face 
with its feverish rays. He rolled clumsily down the 
sloping deck to a spot where a flap of dirty sail 
gave shade and there he lay weakly on his back, 
motionless. 

The change gave him little comfort. His eyes 
throbbed hotly, his throat was as if scraped raw, and 
his mouth was fevered. A circle of iron seemed riv 
eted around his head and his whole body vibrated to 
a mad dance of all his nerves. At last he could stand 
it no longer. He sat up and looked about him des 
perately, then crawled to the scuppers and picked up 
a flask lying there. He held it up against the sun. 
It was empty. With a curse he hurled it into dia 
mond-dust against the bulwarks. 

He sat there a moment, glassy-eyed, then rose with 

98 



THE FAILURE 99 

a trembling effort and groped aft to the cabin. He 
had to kick a mangy dog out of the way and to step 
over a squalid baby, but finally he fell on his knees 
in a corner and eagerly searched beneath the bamboo 
bench that followed the wall on three sides. He rolled 
a dirty bundle out of the way and pulled a demijohn 
toward him. He lowered the mouth tentatively till 
a few drops of the fiery white beno wet the palm of 
his hand, then, with a cry between a sob and a snarl, 
like that of a starving dog closing in on a bone, he 
raised the jug to his lips and drained the dregs in 
four big gulps. His trembling fingers opened and the 
demijohn fell to the floor with a crash. 

A faint colour came to his cheeks and his body 
straightened. He searched his pockets with feverish 
fingers and drew out a soiled cigarette paper and a 
pinch of tobacco. He rolled a cigarette, lit it, and 
went out on the deck. A breath of wind, sweet with 
the fruity smell of crude sugar, struck him in the 
face, and he noticed for the first time what had been 
true since his awakening that the lorcha had come 
to a standstill and that the white roofs of Manila 
were glistening before him. 

The sight did not seem to quicken him into action. 
He strolled down the deck and sat on the bulwarks, 
his legs dangling above the quay. He inhaled the 
smoke deeply two or three times, then his back 






100 CAYBIGAN 

humped and his eyes narrowed like those of a purring 
cat. 

This lethargy of bliss did not last long. Slowly 
something forced itself into it with the insistence of 
a question mark. On the quay almost beneath his 
feet, there were four long, black boxes, ranged sym 
metrically in a row, each with its long, black cover 
by its side. At first they said nothing to his half- 
stupid contemplation, but gradually they took on 
something mysterious and awesome. They were so 
regular, so oblong, so respectable; they stood so 
gapingly, so alertly open, that suddenly a little shud 
der thrilled up along his spine. Ten feet away, rigid 
and alert, a big Met. policeman stood, looking along 
the quay with patiently expectant eyes. Burke was 
on the point of calling out a question when his atten 
tion was drawn by another scene. 

A little rosy pig trotted squealing down the deck 
with a fierce little boy after it. It bumped the bulwark 
beneath Burke, and the vibration caused him to look 
down. The boy had the pig by the tail. The boy was 
pulling one way and the pig the other; they were of 
equal strength, so that for a second they were fixed 
in a plastic group. Struggling impotently, the boy 
turned his big black eyes up to the man in mute 
appeal, and the big black eyes suddenly recalled to 
Burke two other such eyes in just such a little brown 



THE FAILURE 101 

face, and these big black eyes became a measure of 
the road that Burke had travelled the last three years, 
a road he liked not to contemplate. So he was turning 
from the unpleasant scene when the boy let go the 
tail and fell back, rigid. 

Burke looked down upon the stark little form with 
a frown of perplexity and distrust. He slid himself 
along the bulwark till a few feet away, then ran his 
eyes up along the mainmast. 

At the peak, a yellow flag was smacking in the 
wind. 

His eyes dropped to the boxes on the quay. They 
were coffins. 

He understood. The cholera had crept upon the 
lorcha before it had left Vigan, and all the way down 
the coast it had been doing its dread work about him, 
plunged in the oblivion of his solitary orgy. 

There had been seventy people on the lorcha when 
it had left Vigan ; and there were still a half -hundred. 
They were huddled forward, a squalid, rancid, and 
coloured group, their eyes wistfully set upon a black 
pot vibrating upon a fire of small sticks. They were 
from the famine district of Vigan and had not eaten 
for a long time, but their attention was not solely 
upon the vessel holding their handful of rice. At 
times they threw black looks toward the quay. Fear 



102 CAYBIGAN 

was upon them; fear, not of the impalpable Death 
hovering about them, but fear of the White Man s 
Quarantine as represented by the big, passive 
policeman standing there like a menace; the White 
Man s Quarantine, ready to clutch them at the first 
sign of disease and tear them off to its den, to a fear 
ful and ever-mysterious fate. 

Burke looked at them, then pointed at the boy at 
his feet, but they seemed to see nothing. He sprang 
to the deck and he shouted. They turned their heads, 
scowled indifferently at the little stretched body, then 
their eyes returned to the black kettle quivering on 
the fire. 

" Here, here, that won t do," cried Burke, all the 
maudlin softness out of his face, as he marched upon 
the group. " Get up, you hound ! " he thundered, 
kicking the nearest man. " Get up, there ! And you, 
too," he added, cuffing another. " Get up and take 
care of the kid ! " 

He laid about him furiously for a moment, then 
his rage oozed out of him and he stood silent and at 
loss. For the resistance offered him was unlike any 
he had ever met. The men did not budge; they took 
the blows like blocks of wood, remaining as they were, 
without a tremor, their eyes glowing sullenly at the 
deck between their knees ; and the passiveness of that 
resistance was so monstrously powerful that Burke 



THE FAILURE 103 

felt his throat tighten in a rageful, childish impulse 
to break out weeping. 

On a box, a little apart from the crowd, there sat 
a fat, sleek, pale-yellow personage. He observed the 
scene through his narrow eyes with the arrogantly 
skeptical air of the Chino mestizo. His falsetto 
voice now broke the silence. 

"Porque no listed?" he said, suavely, while his 
eyes narrowed to a line with a gleam in it. " Why not 
you?" 

Burke opened his mouth, left it open for a good 
second, then shut it again with a grinding of teeth. 

" By God, I ll do it," he muttered, as he turned 
away. 

He went to the boy, made a movement as if to pick 
him up, hesitated, stood irresolute for a moment, 
then, with a blinding flash of resolution, such as in 
the past had carried him off into postures of which 
others said resounding things and of which he him 
self was vaguely ashamed, he stooped quickly and 
whisked up the little body into his arms. He crossed 
the deck, and as he passed his old army blanket, lying 
still open on the floor, he picked it up and wrapped it 
about the boy; then he laid the whole burden down 
in a sheltered spot against the cabin. A sudden, 
springy alertness had seized his body, and beneath 
the pussy alcoholic flesh of his face had sprung tight 



104 CAYBIGAN 

ropy lines not yet corroded. He tore off the light 
camisa and pantaloons and began rubbing the stiff 
ened limbs. He rubbed with an energy almost savage, 
and he felt under his fingers the stark flesh loosen 
and warm up and live again. The glazed eyes soft 
ened, the lids closed slowly, and they reopened with 
the light of life beneath them. 

And then it was worse. Burke sprang to his feet. 
His bloated face took on the colour of his khaki 
jacket and beads of perspiration welled up about his 
lips. Then his eyebrows snapped down in one black 
line, and his lower jaw advanced till it almost crushed 
out the double chin. For the next hour he worked 
with concentrated rage. 

A thunder of wheels over the cobbles of the quay 
froze him into a listening attitude. The noise stopped 
in a creaking of brakes, and Burke rose slowly, 
stretching his body to full length. He walked to the 
bulwarks and looked out. A big, black wagon was 
standing by. From it two men alighted, putting on 
great rubber gloves. Burke came down the gang 
plank, bearing the boy in his arms. " Hurry up, he 
may pull through," he said. They placed the little 
form in the wagon and rumbled off to the heavy trot 
of the weary horses. The Met. carelessly took a posi 
tion between Burke and the street, but this was not 
necessary. Burke looked down at the coffins, raised 



THE FAILURE 105 

his head, took a big gulp of fresh air, and walked 
back up the plank. 

Ten minutes later a light buggy drove up. An 
officer with a brass cross on the collar of his khaki 
jacket sprang out and walked aboard. 

Burke went to his feet and his hand rose to his hat 
in military salute. " Good-morning, sir," he said. 

The officer s eyes wandered over the boat, taking 
in all the details swiftly, then came back to the man 
standing there at attention. He looked at the bloated 
face, with its ruins of strength beneath ; at the blood 
shot eyes, with their remnant of calm, blue light ; 
at the great, corroded body, with its something yet 
elastic. 

" Jerry Burke ! " he said. 

" Glad you remember me," said the man, with a 
slight sarcasm in his voice. 

The officer looked at him again, with a long, sweep 
ing glance that took in the bloated face, the bloodshot 
eyes, the twisted mouth, the dirty, ragged collar, the 
greasy jacket, the trembling, clutching hands, the 
corkscrewed trousers, the heelless shoes the whole 
abject picture of human degradation there before 
him. 

" And that s what you have become," he said, at 
length. 

Jerry did not answer. 



106 CAYBIGAN 

" Why the devil didn t you go home with the Vol 
unteers ? " asked the officer, angrily. 

Jerry s lips trembled. 

" It had got too bad by that time," he answered, 
at length. 

"And now?" 

" You can see." 

The officer paced the deck. 

" Who took care of that boy? " he asked, suddenly, 
turning upon Jerry with a snarl. 

" I did," answered the latter, surprised into ac 
knowledgment. 

The officer went back to his pacing. At the tenth 
turn he stopped short, pivoted on his heel, and faced 
Burke. 

" You were a man once, weren t you ? " he asked. 

" I suppose so," answered Jerry, hanging his head. 
" At least, you ought to know," he added, a little 
bitterly. 

" Well, do you want to be a man again ? " 

Jerry was looking at the deck. He raised his eyes 
slowly till they plunged into the surgeon s. 

" Can you do it? " he asked, steadily. " I can t! " 

The officer s manner softened. 

" Well, here s the matter. I m short of Health men. 
I need somebody on this derelict. You are the man; 
you re in quarantine, anyway." 



THE FAILURE 107 

Jerry waited for more. 

" This afternoon the lorcha will be towed behind 
the breakwater. She ll be in strict quarantine. You ll 
be in charge. I ll give you disinfectants and medi 
cines. You ll keep the boat clean, and you ll attend 
the sick. Whenever somebody tumbles over, run up 
the yellow flag and we ll come after him as soon as we 
can. Every morning I ll come around and see how 
you are getting along." 

" How long will it last ? " asked Jerry. 

" Don t know. Till they re all gone, perhaps. There 
must be five days quarantine after each case. If they 
die close together, it will be short. If they go five 
days apart, it may last six months. Six months to 
make a man of you, Jerry; will you do it? " 

" It will be hell," said Jerry, with a tense smile. 

" It will be hell," acquiesced the surgeon. " You 
must work, Jerry." 

" I ll do it," said Jerry. 

That afternoon the lorcha was towed behind the 
breakwater, and at sunset a woman who was lighting 
the fire for the evening meal whirled on her heels and 
slapped the deck with the whole length of her body. 
Jerry ran up the yellow flag, but the night had 
dropped like a thunderbolt, and it was not seen from 
shore ; so he cared for her till morning. She was old 



108 CAYBIGAN 

and knotted and decrepit; her teeth were gone, and 
she was loathesomely unclean, but he worked over her 
with rigid patience, not ceasing for a moment, for the 
Demon was already clutching at him. At dawn a boat 
pulled up and the woman was lowered into it, still 
alive. 

Then the sun rose, blinding hot, and Jerry 
paced the deck furiously. The groups of sleepers 
on deck were disentangling beneath the stinging an 
nouncement of the new day, and they scattered in 
awe before the strange Americano, tugging among 
them with great steps that were almost leaps. At last 
a little steamer appeared at the mouth of the river; 
it slid along on the other side of the breakwater, 
turned at the end, and chugged alongside the lorcha. 
It was the doctor s launch. 

Burke stepped to the bulwarks and looked down at 
the boat wallowing in the cross-seas. Huntington was 
standing on the rail, his right hand against the side 
of the lorcha, his body giving easily to every shock ; 
and Burke gazed hungry-eyed at his cool, alert 
demeanour. 

" Well, how goes it ? " asked the surgeon. 

" One case," said Burke, calmly. 

" That means five days more. What is it ? " 

" A woman ; she s at the hospital now," he an 
swered, in the same rigid, subdued tone. 



THE FAILURE 109 

" And you? " asked the surgeon. 

" For God s sake," cried Burke, his voice breaking 
into frenzy, " give me something to do, something 
to do ! " 

" All right, old man," answered Huntington, show 
ing no surprise. " Throw us a rope." 

Burke threw a rope. A case was tied to it and 
hauled on deck. 

" Chlorodyne," announced the surgeon. 

The rope was thrown back. A demijohn was hauled 
up, then another, and another. 

" Carbolic," shouted Huntington. " Disinfect the 
boat." 

" All right ; good-by," said Burke. 

The doctor waved his hand, and the launch churned 
away. 

The day was heavy with heat. The wind had 
died, the sea was glazed, and the tin roofs of Manila 
glistened white. A torpor fell from the brazen heavens, 
and all day Burke struggled beneath it in a frenzy 
of toil. When he had cleaned the boat thoroughly, he 
arranged the little cabin into a hospital. Almost im 
mediately it had its occupant. A boy was down. 
Jerry laid him on his cot, pried his teeth open with 
his knife, and poured some chlorodyne between them ; 
then walked to the mainmast, and soon to the watch 
ers on shore the leprous banner rose against the gory 



110 CAYBIGAN 

hues of the setting sun. The boat came and took the 
child away. 

When the launch came, in the morning, Burke was 
standing at the head of the ladder. All the traces of 
a fearful night were in his face, and yet Huntington s 
scrutiny found something satisfactory in the man. 
The old khaki suit had been washed, and hung, still 
damp, upon his frame. 

More medicines and disinfectants, a supply of food 
and distilled water, several objects, very vulgar and 
very grim, were passed up, and then the doctor asked : 

" Anything you need, old man? " 

Burke shook his head in indecisive negative. 

" I have you on the pay-roll," added the officer, 
casually ; " assistant inspector ; three-and-a-half a 
day." 

Burke dropped his eyes to the deck. Then he 
blurted out: 

"Yes, two khakis." 

" All right," said Huntington, rapidly measuring 
with his eye the frame before him. " Anything else? " 

Again an embarrassed silence, then another burst: 

" A razor." 

" I ll send the things this afternoon," said Hunt 
ington, gladder than his voice implied. 

Burke went back to his work. After disinfecting 
his little hospital he executed, with the aid of Tionko, 



THE FAILURE 111 

the Chino mestizo, whose oily good will and linguis 
tic ability were fast becoming indispensable, a plot 
hatched during the sleeplessness of the night. First 
the men, then the women, were filed into a bath house 
made of sails and forced to bathe in warm, carbolised 
water, while their clothes boiled in cauldrons outside. 
By sunset the passenger list of the Bonita was clean, 
at least externally. 

Then the usual commotion forward told Burke 
that his work had begun again. This time it was a 
child-mother, a pitiful, little black-eyed thing, with 
a squalling whitish baby at her breast. It was too 
late for the shore boat, so he cared for them. At mid 
night the baby died and, two hours later, the mother ; 
they lay side by side and, of the two, it was the 
mother s face that looked the child s, and the baby s 
the withered old. At daybreak the boat took them 
away. 

Weeks followed, filled with the same stagnancy of 
horror. The work had settled down to flat routine 
and life became a fearful monotony as day after day 
poured its brazen heat upon the empested boat. The 
only element of excitement lay in the ebb and flow of 
disease. On some days two or three, once even five, 
fell, and Burke s hospital over-filled and poured out 
its burden upon the deck ; at other times there would 



CAYBIGAN 

be periods of three or four days without a case, and 
once the expiration of the mystical five days which 
was to free the lorcha from its imprisonment was 
almost reached when two men were suddenly felled as 
if by the same thunderbolt. Burke s worst periods 
were when the hospital was empty. On such days the 
routine of his duties took him only a little past noon, 
and then would come the full bitterness of the strug 
gle. He found something to do and worked with teeth 
set, but his hands trembled, his nerves were tortured, 
and his eyes felt as if being pulled out of their sockets. 

Then in the maddening monotony of this life there 
crept another element. 

Before lying down to his snatch of horror-broken 
sleep, Jerry was accustomed to take a plunge over 
the side, although the waters of the bay were full of 
sharks. One night, as he was preparing to climb back 
upon the lorcha, he reached in vain for the rope that 
he had left dangling for the purpose. It had been 
pulled up just out of his grasp. Treading water by 
the black hull. Burke shouted repeatedly, but a sleep 
deep as the night that wrapped the vessel seemed to 
have its inhabitants, and his cries got no response. 

" Listen," finally said Burke, talking calmly in 
the silence. " Listen. You know how I can swim. If 
that rope does not come down in ten seconds, I ll 
swim to the big army boat to the right there. I ll 



THE FAILURE 113 

come back with fifty soldiers, and we ll hang you all 
to the mast. Remember, the sharks do not touch me." 

As mysteriously as it had been raised, the rope 
dropped softly till its end touched the water. When 
Burke, dripping, sprang on deck, a heavy silence was 
upon the boat, broken only by the hoarse breathing 
of the sleepers, spread about in limp attitudes like 
the dead upon the battlefield. 

A few days later, as he took up the demijohn in 
which he kept his drinking water, brought distilled 
from shore, he found the cork askew. He was always 
careful to shut the vessel hermetically, and a sudden 
suspicion made him turn the demijohn over and pour 
its contents out upon the deck. The water gurgled 
out, and when the vessel was empty Jerry found a 
little piece of cloth sticking to the inside of the gullet. 
He drew it out, and an icy shiver ran up his spine. 
He held in his hand a little square of red and yellow 
calico. The last cholera victim of the Bonita, a 
woman, had worn a sarong of red and yellow calico. 

He threw the demijohn overboard, and when he had 
obtained a new one from shore he slept against it at 
night. 

Burke began to observe his crew, and this gave 
him little satisfaction. Beneath the oriental passive- 
ness, malevolence was boiling. His orders, it is true, 
were obeyed; but it was with heaviness of movement 



114 CAYBIGAN 

and dulness of eye ; and in the periods of rest, sullen, 
squatting groups formed, that broke out in whisper 
ings and oblique looks, to be scattered usually by the 
bowing, smirking, oily Chino, Tionko. And of all 
the ominous signs, there was none that displeased 
Burke more than the behaviour of the Chino this 
evident eagerness to save the face of things, to 
glaze over the dark working beneath with a serene 
surface. 

They were on one of these periods of immunity 
from disease which drew all nerves tense. Three days 
had passed, then four; they entered upon the fifth. 
Twenty-four hours more would set the Bonita 
free from the iron clutches of the quarantine. That 
day was a bad one. The solidarity in misfortune that 
had bound the unfortunates of the lorcha broke into 
a ferocious individualism. All work ceased that 
morning. The population of the Bonita divided 
into groups ; these segregated more and more as the 
day advanced, till finally each man was squatting 
alone, with glaring threat in his eyeballs. God help 
the one who should come down ; the execration of the 
whole boat was already fo cussed upon him. 

At last the brazen day melted into the purple even 
ing and night came, with a trembling crescent of 
moon in the sky and a horizon vibrating in sheet 
lightning. Burke prepared himself for what was 



THE FAILURE 115 

likely to be his last night of vigil. He lit a lantern 
and began pacing to and fro to keep awake, usually 
an easy thing for him to do. Toward midnight, he 
stopped and leaned against the mainmast, gazing at 
the weird flashing of light at the horizon. Insensibly 
he went asleep. His head fell on his breast, his legs 
sagged beneath him, and he slid softly down till he 
sat upon the deck, his back against the mast. 

Suddenly he found himself sitting bolt upright, 
all his faculties stiffened in alarm. The turbulent 
fancies of his slumber had merged into something 
tense and sharp as reality, and his ears still rang 
with low moans, a scurry of feet, and a strangled 
cry. Now that he was fully awake, however, the night 
was heavy with silence, only the tide bubbling and 
tinkling and crooning along the flanks of the boat. 
He lay back a moment, but his senses had been 
too acutely wrung, and, picking up the lantern, he 
walked forward. 

Everything was quiet. Indistinct forms were 
stretched about the deck, and the breathing of the 
sleepers rhythmed the silence. Near the anchor, Burke 
recognised Tionko. The Chino s chest was rising and 
falling in deep, regular movement ; he moaned inartic 
ulately as Burke bent over him with his lantern. 

Burke was turning away when, in the movement, 
the light of the lantern fell upon the rope up which 



116 CAYBIGAN 

he had clambered on the night of the first mysterious 
attack against him. Although not used any more, it 
had been left hanging over the side, and now, as 
Burke s eyes fell upon it, in the glare of the light, it 
was all a-tremble and a-thrill, like a live thing. Mum 
bling sleepily about the strength of the tide, Burke 
gave it a pull. A resistance met him, as that of a line 
with a fish hooked at the end. Puzzled, he went over 
the side, holding to the bulwark and bending down 
as far as he could, and then, as he gave another tug, 
two thin arms clutching the rope, and then a livid 
face, bobbed up slowly into the pale moonlight. 

Burke let himself down, his feet against the side, 
his left hand grasping the rope. He bent down, his 
right hand caught a handful of hair, and he drew 
up on it. Taking the loose end of the rope, he passed 
it beneath both limp arms, then, holding it between 
his teeth, he clambered back to the deck and pulled 
the whole body up. He sent the rays of his lantern 
into the face, and recognised it as that of a young 
boy of the lorcha. 

He was still alive, but cholera had him. Burke 
understood, but it was no time for punishment. He 
carried the stiffened form to the hospital and for an 
hour fought with Death ; but the shock had been too 
much for the disease-racked body. When there was 
nothing left to do, Burke turned back the blanket 



THE FAILURE 117 

over the rigid face, then stood still, his eyes cast 
down at the deck. 

" Tionko," he finally said, as if giving the answer 
to some problem. 

He picked up an iron belaying-pin, bared his arms, 
and started toward the bow. As he reached the fore 
mast, however, three shadows sprang at him from the 
darkness ahead. With a sidewise leap he evaded them, 
then waited, crouched low, with one hand upon the 
deck. The men scattered in a circle surrounding him, 
but before they could close in he sprang at one, 
felled him with the shock of his body, and darted 
behind the mast, where he stood, waiting. 

There was a moment of hesitation among the 
bravos, and they retreated toward the bow. Burke 
left the mast to peer into the darkness; a knife 
whizzed by his head, and he sprang back to his 
shelter. 

They came forward again, and they were four this 
time. Burke saw that the defensive would be useless. 
With one leap he was among them, whacking to right 
and left with his belaying-pin. A hatchet was raised 
above his head, but the belaying-pin cracked the 
wrist that held it and it clattered to the deck. A 
streak of fire scorched his shoulder, but the badly- 
aimed dagger dropped as the belaying-pin came down 
upon its owner s cranium. 



118 CAYBIGAN 

And all this time, while he laid about him with 
instinctive parry and thrust, his eyes were riveted on 
an indistinct form in the shadow behind, a form from 
which came a running sound of encouragement, sug 
gestion, command. Suddenly he sprang back, then 
to one side, then forward and he had passed the 
four struggling men. He took two running steps 
forward, then his body left the deck and shot 
through the air. With a thud it struck the man in 
the shadow and crushed him down. Like a cat, Burke 
was on his feet again. He picked up the body 
by the waist, held it off at arm s length, brought it 
back close to him long enough to see Tionko s face 
in a grin of horror, then his arms distended like great 
springs and Tionko shot over the bulwarks. 

He turned to the others, but they had slunk away 
in the darkness, and he knew that, the Chino gone, 
there was no more to fear. 

He peered out into the water, and the phosphores 
cence showed him an indistinct form swimming slowly 
away. Then it turned back, splashing painfully, 
and a cracked falsetto voice whined in beggar-like 
modulations. 

" Seiior, for the love of Christ, let me on ! " 

Burke hesitated, and suddenly the thing was set 
tled for him. From the right a phosphorescent flash 
cut the water in a streak. Swift and luminous as a 



THE FAILURE 119 

rocket it came, straight toward the splashing form; 
it struck it, and then the spot burst out in a great 
bubble of light, in which Burke caught a flash of the 
Chino, his arms raised to heaven, his mouth distended 
in abominable fear. There was a hoarse croak, a 

X 

gurgle, and then the phosphorescence sank slowly and 
went out in the depths below. A gentle ripple undu 
lated over the darkened surface of the water and 
broke softly against the flanks of the lorcha. 

Burke, dizzied, walked forward. The limp, scat 
tered sleepers were still there as before, but in one 
corner a man was choking in his breathing, and near 
the anchor another was vibrating in his sleep in one 
long, continuous shudder. 

There came another period of suspense. One day 
passed, two days passed, with no cases. The 
third day came, and Burke s Demon was clutch 
ing him. 

He had found in the hold some rude native varnish, 
redolent of crude alcohol, and had brought it up to 
polish the crude furniture of his hospital; and now 
he dared not come near it. The bucket stood by the 
hatch, and Burke was pacing to and fro along the 
deck like a wild beast. Each time he passed the bucket 
the pungent odour stung his face, filling his mind 
with the memory of one of his worst periods of 



120 CAYBIGAN 

degradation and his whole physical being with a mad 
ness to wallow back into it. 

He fought hard. He knew that he must throw that 
bucket overboard, so he forced his thoughts upon the 
act. 

" I ll walk twenty times the length of the deck with 
my mind on that," he muttered to himself. 

So, concentrating his brain upon the necessary 
deed, he began pacing up and down. At the twentieth 
turn he walked toward the bucket and stopped sud 
denly, livid as death, his eyes fixed stupidly upon his 
hands. 

In his right hand he held a stick, a little, pliable 
bamboo stick. 

He tried to remember picking it up ; he could not. 
The act had been not of the will, of the will that was 
fighting for mastery ; it had been forced by that 
other Power, that Power which possessed his nerves, 
his bones, his flesh, the Power he was seeking to kill. 

" I will begin again," he muttered. 

At the tenth turn he stopped short, and a cold 
sweat welled up upon his body. He had another stick 
in his hand. 

And then, slowly, haltingly, but irresistibly, he 
approached the bucket. With somnambulant rigidity 
he placed the stick in the viscous stuff and slowly 
rotated it once, as if tentatively ; then once more, 



THE FAILURE 

determinedly ; then again, with a sort of rage. The 
heavy fluid followed the stick, turned on itself faster 
and faster. A little whirlpool formed in the center. 
Burke s eyes fixed themselves upon it, and silently the 
little whirlpool sucked down all that was strong in 
him. 

The stick scraped along the sides of the bucket; 
the liquid circled swiftly. In a minute, in the depres 
sion at the center, a black spot formed. The stick 
turned faster. The black spot grew ; finally it was a 
little round ball that sank to the bottom. The stick 
whirled around madly. The little ball enlarged. From 
all sides the like molecules rushed to it, rounding it 
out as a snowball that is rolled downhill. At last it 
was like a small cannon-ball. Burke bared his arms, 
plunged them into the bucket, drew out the black, 
pitchy solid and threw it overboard. 

He rushed back, and his hollowed hand scooped up 
a few drops of the now-white liquid and slapped it 
to his lips. The taste drove him mad, and, dropping 
down on hands and knees like a dog, he put his lips 
to the side of the bucket and drew in long gulpfuls. 

A little later the natives were all gathered at the 
stern, looking with wonder upon the strange actions 
of the Americano. 

He was squatting on deck, the bucket between his 
knees. At close intervals he raised it to his lips and 



122 CAYBIGAN 

poured the awful contents down his throat. Then he 
hugged the bucket, sobbing softly like a child being 
consoled after suffering, and between his laughs and 
his tears he gurgled to himself an endless story, full of 
tearful self-compassion and sobbing, endearing terms, 
long and soft and meaningless as the croon of a 
lonely babe. 

Toward night he fell into a heavy stupor and lay 
there on his back, his face to the moonlight, and the 
tears drying on his cheeks. 

In the morning, when the doctor s launch churned 
out of the river, it had in tow the boat of the 
Bonita filled with the people of the lorcha. They 
had been caught by a patrol boat at midnight just 
as they were on the point of landing on the Luneta. 

The launch pulled up against the lorcha, and Hunt- 
ington sprang aboard. Burke rose from the deck 
and waited for him. He was hollow and drooping, 
as if the bony frame had been removed from his body, 
and his eyes were dead. 

A look told the doctor what had happened. 

"Yes," said Burke, corroborating the surgeon s 
unexpressed thought. 

Huntington paced the deck. 

" Well," he said, finally, " you did well to stand it 
that long. Next time it will be longer." 

Burke did not answer. 



THE FAILURE 123 

" We have to begin again." 

" Begin again," echoed Burke, mechanically. 

" You ll do it, old man," said Huntington, con 
fidently. 

" My God, Huntington," said Burke, in a whisper; 
" my God, Huntington, I killed Tionko ; I threw him 
to the sharks, and now, look at me! " 

When the launch had left, Burke crouched down in 
a corner against the bulwarks, and there he sat the 
morning long, his eyes glued stupidly to the deck. 

At noon he suddenly got up, walked firmly to the 
mainmast, and ran up the yellow flag. 

When the boat came he went down the ladder and 
sat himself in the sternsheets. The man in charge 
looked at him inquiringly. 

" Pull away," he said, shortly; " I ve got it." 



VI 

SOME BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION 

THAT by teaching the Filipinos the American 
branch of the English language it was expected to 
transfuse into them the customs, ideas, and ideals of 
the speakers of that tongue, the Maestro vaguely 
knew. But that this method would meet with the vig 
orous and somewhat eccentric success that it did in 
Senorita Constancia de la Rama, the Visayan young 
lady whom he had trained to take charge of his girls 
school, he had not dreamed. So, taken unaware by 
the news, he flopped down on a chair with a low 
whistle that finished off into something like a groan as 
the situation presented itself to him in its full beauty. 
And then, taken by that perverse desire which, in time 
of catastrophe, impels us to rehearse all of the ele 
ments that go to make our woe particularly unbear 
able, he began to question the urchin who had brought 
the note from Mauro Ledesma, one of the native 
assistant teachers of the boys school. 

" Senor Ledesma gave you that note, Isidro?" 
" Yes, Senor Pablo, the little Filipino maestro gave 
it to me," answered Isidro, careful in his discrimina 
tion of masters. 

" Where was he ; in the house? " 



BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION 

" Oh, yes, Senor Pablo, he was in the house he 
was altogether inside of the house ! " 

The Maestro eyed the boy with sudden suspicion. 
He thought that he had detected a joyous note in the 
statement of the native teacher s whereabouts. But 
Isidro s return glance was liquid with innocence. 

" And he called you? " went on the Maestro. 

" Oh, no, Senor Pablo, he did not call me ! Ambro- 
sio, his muchacho, called me! Senor Ledesma, he 
stayed inside ! " 

Again the Maestro started, for Isidro s sentence 
formation seemed suspiciously appreciative. But the 
little face he searched was wooden. 

" He called you from the door? " 

" From the window, Senor Pablo. The door, it was 
locked. He called this way " (here Isidro de 
scribed with his right arm a furious moulinet) . " He 
said, sh-sh-sh-sh-sh, and then he moved his arm 
this way " (again thje moulinet), "and then he 
stopped his arm and moved his finger this way " 
(here Isidro help up his hand before his face and 
moved the index finger several times toward his nose 
in a gesture full of mysterious significance). 

" And then you went in ? " 

"Yes, Senor Pablo. They opened the door, oh, 
just a little, like that " (Isidro placed his hands 
palm to palm with an interstice between them just 



126 CAYBIGAN 

wide enough to allow the wiggling through of a very 
lean serpent), "and I went in and they shut the 
door again and put the bed up against it." 

" Well, well ; and Maestro Ledesma, he was inside? " 

" Oh, yes, Senor Pablo, he was inside. He was writ 
ing this letter. And I think Senor Ledesma is very 
sick, Senor Pablo, because when he was writing he 
was all the time saying, Madre de Dios and 
* Jesus-Maria-Joseph ! and making noises like this." 

And Isidro convulsed himself in an effort that re 
sulted in a vague imitation of the wail of a carabao 
calf. 

" And he gave you the letter when he had finished? " 

" Yes, Senor Pablo, that is the letter," said Isidro, 
pointing to the note on the table which had been the 
Maestro s before-breakf ast thunderbolt. " He said, 
run and give this letter to Maestro Pablo ; and so 
I went, but I did not go out by the door." 

"You didn t?" 

" No, Senor Pablo. Maestro Ledesma, he said I 
must not go out by the door. So they tied a rope 
around me, and I went out by the window, in back, 
and I ran here, and I did not stop to play cibay on 
the way, Senor Pablo." 

But Isidro s virtue was destined to go unrewarded. 
The Maestro was deep in a re-reading of the disas 
trous missive: 



BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION 127 

MUCH SENOR MINE AND REVERED TEACHER AND AD 
VISER IN MY TIMES OF CALAMITY 

I beseech you, my venerated Teacher and in many 
ways Ancestor to come to my succor in this my most de 
plorable state, and pull away from me the blackness of 
Despair that is at the all-around of me. 

I am a prisoner in my own house. In fear and trem 
bling I dare not sleep, I dare not eat, and I cannot 
leave my habitation to go to the school and perform my 
sacred duties of teaching the ignorant and unhappy 
youth of my sore-tried country the blessings and deliv 
erance of the great country under the rustling shadows 
of the stars and spangles which you have come so many 
miles across the wetness of the sea to pull the black veil 
of ignorance from our eyes. 

Your Maestra, the Senorita Constancia de la Rama y 
Lacson, is camped in my sugar fields, in front of my 
house, and she will not decamp. 

With loud threats of vengeance and audacious accusa 
tion she declares that she will marry me. 

But I do not want to marry her, most excellent sir, I 
do not want to marry your Maestra, the Senorita Con 
stancia de la Rama y Lacson ! 

O sir, my revered Master, I am all alone, my ancestral 
father and mother being for a few weeks at our other 
hacienda, and I implore you to save me from this my 
desperate state. Come to me, oh please, and drive the 
she-wolf from my door, and you shall ever receive a 
gentle rain of unspeakable gratitude from 
The Sore Heart of 

Your humble Pupil 
And Beseecher 

MAURO LEDESMA Y GOLES. 

P.S. Viva America in Philippines ! Viva Philippines 
in America! M. L. Y G. 



128 CAYBIGAN 

" Go to school, Isidro," said the Maestro, when 
he was through, in a voice so weak that the boy looked 
up quickly, wondering whether everyone was ill that 
fine, fragrant morning. " Tell Senor Abada to take 
charge till I come." 

The Maestro felt the necessity of some deep, care 
ful thinking. For certainly, of all the difficulties 
which, in his two years career, he had alertly fought 
and conquered, none had ever confronted him of 
nature so delicate. 

n 

It s always when you think that you have at last 
mastered the problem of this life and evolved a sys 
tem that promises smooth going the rest of the way 
that the skies tumble down upon you. 

Thus it was with the Maestro. Just when he had 
brought the school system of his pueblo to the point 
where, he fondly dreamed, he could sit back and watch 
it run along the nickel-plated tracks that he had so 
carefully laid, there came the washout and the promise 
of wreck. 

The blow was a hard one, and for a while, very 
much in contradiction to his custom, the Maestro 
buried himself in thought of past achievements and 
his heart softened toward himself in a great burst of 
self-compassion. 



BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION 129 

He thought of the fight, the long, bitter, patient 
fight, he had had to find a Maestra and get his girls 
school started. The hunt for a Maestra, what an 
Iliad, and what an Odyssey ! First the careful can 
vas of the pueblo, the horror of the chosen at the 
thought of degrading themselves to the point of 
teaching in a public school, the rebuffs of parents, 
the tearful indignation of mothers ; then, the pueblo 
proving impossible, the long rides into the surround 
ing country, to far haciendas, in search of the longed- 
for Being! Once he had crossed the swollen Hog, 
and had been nearly drowned with his horse, to find 
the fair one of whom he had heard glowing reports 
she was very well educated, si Senor, had been to col- 
legio in Manila for four years, yes, four years ; and 
she could play the piano, ah, divinely, and she could 
sew and weave jusi, just like the mother of God to 
find this marvel deaf, deaf as a post ! 

And then, suddenly, he had met Her ! 

His being still thrilled at the memory. He had met 
her, Constancia de la Rama, at a baile. She was danc 
ing the escupiton, and right away he saw that she was 
not as the others. The grace of her balancing waist, 
of the airy arm-gestures was not rounded and timid 
as that of her sisters her grace was angular. Her 
black eyes did not fix a hypothetical point between 
her shilena-shod little feet; they looked boldly at 



130 CAYBIGAN 

those who addressed her. She did not squirm and 
giggle at compliments, but accepted them freely and 
boisterously. And the Maestro had the irritat 
ing sense of having met her somewhere, sometime, 
before. 

He danced with her. In honour of the Ameri 
cano, rigidon, escupiton, dreamy waltz had been abol 
ished in favour of a Sousa march played in rag-time. 
They had danced the two-step together, and with stu 
por he had found himself led. It was she who deter 
mined the length of the glide, the way they should 
turn, how the cape of chairs should be doubled. And 
so they had slid along the whole floor in three steps, 
had whirled like tops, and his final desperate attempt 
to take command had resulted in a woeful lurch and 
tangle. 

And as she stalked in her long, loose stride toward 
the dressing-room to readjust her saya, somewhat in 
distress from the Maestro s last effort, it had sud 
denly flashed upon him where he had seen her before. 
He had seen her, not in the Philippines, but in the 
United States, not as an individual, but as a type. 
He had seen her type in the co-educational colleges 
of his own country. She was a co-ed, that s what 
she was ! 

When she came out again, he asked her to be his 
Maestra. 



BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION 131 

" Forty pesos a month," she said, dreamily. " And 
you would teach me American? " 

" You would have to study English and teach it 
at the school." 

" I will begin Monday," she said. 

She had not even asked the consent of her parents. 
At the time, how pleased he had been at this refresh 
ing independence, and yet, in the light of later events, 
how ominous it really was ! 

It was a time of joy. She had attacked her new 
task with alert energy. From the first the Girl s 
School had become the envy of the maestros of the 
whole province. He could see her yet, leading her 
stolid little brownies in song. 

" Chi-rrrries rrri-pa ! Chi-rrries rrri-pa ! Woo 
weel buy my chi-rrries rrri-pa ! " she tremoloed, in 
piercing falsetto, beating up a small typhoon with 
her baton of sugar-cane ; " chee-rrries rrri-pa go 
on ! sing ! all too-gidderrr ! louderr ! sing, I say you ! 
chee-rrries rrri-pa, chee-rrries rri-pa ! " 

And then, charging a little girl, her right arm and 
index finger stiffened out like a lance: 

" Hao menny ligs has ddee cao? " she screeched. 

" Dee cao has too-a, too-a legs," stammered the 
little brown maiden, annihilated by the sudden attack. 

" Ah, sus ! Hao menny ligs ? " she screeched 
higher, presenting her lance farther down the line. 



132 CAYBIGAN 

" Ddee cao hes trrree legs ! " 

" Hao menny ligs ? Hao menny ligs ? Dee cao hes 
trree ligs ? Count ! Count ! Wan, too-a, trrrree, four ! 
Dee cao hes four ligs. Wow! Sus-Maria- Joseph ! " 

From the first she had taken an ardent liking for 
all American institutions. The liberty of women espe 
cially, as she gleaned it from her readings and from 
sundry discreet questions put to the Maestro, en 
chanted her. 

" Senor Maestro, in America, the young ladies, 
they go out in the street, all alone? " 

" Well, yes ; it is considered all right for them to 
do so, in the West, at least." 

"And they go out all alone?" she repeated, pen 
sively, in the awed tone that we are taught to use 
in a cathedral or pantheon. 

And, a few days later: 

" Senor Maestro, in America, the young girls, 
they go out with young men, all alone? " 

" Well, yes ; that is yes ; it s considered all right 
for young people to walk together." 

" And they go out, in the evening, when the moon 
is shining, and walk together? " 

" Well, yes, some do. You see, it s very different 
in America from the Philippines. You see, in America, 
the young men and women are more like brothers and 
sisters." 



BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION 

" Oh, they do not marry, then ? " 

So that the Maestro s feelings, while watching this 
Americanisation, were somewhat mixed; especially so 
when the town council came to him in horror-stricken 
deputation and advised him of the fact that his Maes- 
tra was scandalising the pueblo by walking along the 
river banks with a young man in the evenings. The 
Maestra was no dreamy theorist. After that the 
Maestro was more careful in his inoculation of Amer 
ican virus. 

" No, sir," said the Maestro, to himself, rising from 
his chair and stretching, his self-examination finished ; 
" no, sir ; since that night the shocked council called 
on me I ve been good. I ve been almighty careful not 
to put new ideas into her blooming young head. I ve 
been the acme of prudence. I ve v 

And suddenly he tumbled back into his chair, and 
his heart sank slowly down into his heels. For, he 
remembered, only a few days ago, in the Teachers 
class, the subject of leap-year had come up, and his 
exposition had been not exclusively astronomical. 
No, he must admit it, with that deplorable desire to 
astonish that possesses most of us, he had well, his 
account of certain custom had been somewhat 
coloured, and more emphatic than the custom 
itself 

"Thunder!" ejaculated the Maestro, a new cold 



134 CAYBIGAN 

wave showering him. He rushed to the calendar 
tacked to the wall and turned the pages swiftly. 

He stood before the date, petrified. 

It was the twenty-ninth of February. 

m 

The Maestro seized a cap upon the table, plumped 
it upon his head, and hop-skipped- jumped down the 
stairs. " Action, action," his whole being cried. He 
glanced into the girls schoolhouse as he passed. 
The Second Maestra was sitting apathetically in a 
chair, her baby at her breast, and the little girls, 
tight up against each other on their high benches, 
their hands folded upon their bright patadyons, 
looked like some little strawberry-hued birds that he 
had seen once in the window of an animal store, a 
thousand on one perch. The silence, the inaction of 
the place hurt him to the core, and the remark that 
suddenly ripped the somnolent atmosphere was so 
electric that the Maestra sprang to her feet. 

" Do you see dde hhett? " she said, lamely, pointing 
to a pear tree on the chart. 

But she might have saved herself the trouble. The 
head from which had come the remark had disap 
peared from the door. The Maestro was already fifty 
yards away, eating up the distance with long, nervous 
strides. He enfiladed a lane, between fields of high 



BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION 135 

sugar cane, and finally came to the little plaza where 
throned the Ledesma nipa-mansion. The doors, the 
shutters were closed tight, as if to shut out the pes 
tilence, and there was no sound, no movement, no sign 
of life. The Maestro looked about him carefully, 
then began to walk along the edge of the open space, 
peering along the vistas between the rows of cane. 
Soon he came upon the Maestra. 

The first glance told him the magnitude of the 
task ahead; for the little recess in the canes had all 
the signs of cool and determined occupation. A red 1 - 
and-white patate was spread upon the ground. On 
one of the corners were carefully heaped a few of the 
Senorita s worldly goods a camphor-wood chest, the 
size of a doll s trunk; a pina camisa, tied up in a 
bandana handkerchief; and another Handkerchief 
bulging and running out with a few handfuls of 
palay. Off the mat, on a little fire of twigs, the 
breakfast rice was bubbling in a big black pot. 

The Maestra was seated in the centre of the mat, 
her limbs drawn up beneath her bright patadyon in 
a certain kittenish grace. She was in morning neglige 
and her loose hair fell down over her shoulders in a 
glistening black cascade. As the Maestro approached 
her from behind, he heard a rustling of paper, and, 
looking down over her head, he saw that she was read 
ing. The Maestro blushed, not at his indiscretion, 



136 CAYBIGAN 

but at sight of big black lines announcing the 
name of the publication. The Maestra was reading 
the Hearth Companion. With remorse, the Maes 
tro remembered how once, in the heat of his proselyt- 
ism, he had recommended to all his Filipino teach 
ers to subscribe to American periodicals. It was a 
bitter backward path that his mind was treading as 
he went further into this affair, tracing back to his 
well-meant efforts so many unexpected results. 

" Good-morning, Miss de la Rama," he said, 
gravely. 

But she read on for several lines, then, seemingly 
having come to a satisfactory ending of an exciting 
crisis, she laid the paper down carefully and, looking 
up with a sweet smile, " Gooda morrneen, Senor 
Pablo," she answered. 

And in her tone, her smile, there was no fear of 
disapproval, but rather that bubbling satisfaction 
which hardly can wait to be congratulated. 

" Why are you not at school? " asked the Maestro, 
severely. 

" Ah, de school, de school, yes, de school was very 
nice," she sighed, with the tenderness one uses to 
speak of the sweet, gone past. But her interest, 
plainly, was elsewhere. 

" To-day is leapa-year day," she went on, her voice 
now vibrant with decision ; " and I am going to get 



BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION 137 

married, Senor Maestro ; I am to get married like an 
American girl; just like an American girl!" she 
repeated, in glowing exultation. 

" Oh ! " said the Maestro, with lying fervour, 
" somebody has asked your hand, Senorita ? Let me 
congratulate you. And who is the lucky fellow ? " 
1 "Asked my hand?" cried the Maestra, wonder- 
ingly. " No. I said like an American girl. Nobody 
has asked me the hand. I will marry like an American 
girl. This is leapa-year day. Just like an American 
girl!" 

" But, gadzooks ! " exclaimed the Maestro, at once 
frightened and horrified by this strange insistence, 
" American girls don t marry like that. Leap-year, 
that s just fiction, a legend, a joke. I told you about 
leap-year the other day; it s just a little joke yes, 
that s it, a little joke!" 

But the Maestra was proof against American 
bluff. 

" American girls, they all, all marry on leapa- 
year," she said, severely. " You say so the other 
day, and all the American books say so. Here is a 
paper," she said, patting the Hearth Companion. 
" There are in it ten stories about American girls, 
and they all marry on leapa-year day; all, todas 
ask a gentleman to marry on leapa-year day. It is 
not a joke." 



138 CAYBIGAN 

" But," hinted the Maestro, " maybe Seiior Ledesma 
(does not want to marry." 

" That does not matter at all," said the Maestra, 
crisply. " If we will be Americans, we must adopt the 
American costumbres. There is a story in this paper 
it does not matter at all; Sefior Ledesma is very 
bashful, but this is leapa-year day." 

Just then the rice rose in a foaming surge and 
began to trickle down the black rotundity of the pot. 
The Maestra sprang up with agile grace, and with 
a few dexterous sweeps of her little feet scattered the 
fire of twigs. " Will you have some breakfast ? " she 
asked the Maestro, sweetly. 

But during this movement the Maestro s brain had 
been working swiftly, and he had decided upon a 
change of base. 

" Your assistant, Felicia, is becoming a very able 
teacher," he remarked, nonchalantly. 

" Yes, she is a very good teacher," agreed the 
Maestra; but there was no emphasis on her adjective. 

" This morning," went on the Maestro, " she was 
teaching the children. She said, Do you see the 
hat ? and she pointed to the pear tree." 

" Sus-Maria-Joseph ! " exclaimed the Maestra ; 
" she said that? But it is barbarous! The children, 
they will unlearn all that I learned them ! It is what 
you call? it is impossible!" 



BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION 139 

" Yes," went on the Maestro, seeing that he was 
on the right track, and using his imagination a bit ; 
" and she told them, I has two hats. " 

" < I has? I has? she said I has ? Que barbar- 
idad ! Senor Pablo, I will " 

And, dropping her bowl of rice, she started run 
ning toward the school, while behind her back the 
Maestro executed a little jig. His undignified joy, 
however, lasted but a few seconds. The Maestra came 
to an abrupt stop, looked down at her garments, and 
came back slowly. 

" I cannot go to school in these clothes," she said, 
sorrowfully. 

" No," admitted the Maestro ; " but can you not 
put on your others ? " 

The Maestra looked embarrassed. 

" Senor Maestro," she confided, " you know my 
mother ; she is very aged, you know, and she does not 
know American like me, and she dislikes very much 
American customs " She hesitated. 

"Well?" said the Maestro, not understanding. 

" She hates very much American customs, and 
so she hates the leapa-year custom; and this 
morning, this morning she told me not to come 
back to her house, and all my clothes are in the 
house." 

There was a long silence. " Gosh all hemlock," 



140 CAYBIGAN 

said the Maestro, at length, and then there was an 
other silence. 

The Maestra broke it. " Senor Maestro," she said, 
softly, " do you think, maybe, perhaps, you could 
go and ask my mother for the clothes ? " 

" Good golly ! " remarked the Maestro. " Good 
golly ! " he repeated, wiping his brow with his hand 
kerchief. But he started off. 

He returned a half hour later, wilted and perspir 
ing. The old Senora de la Rama had some tenacious 
Chinese blood in her veins, and the struggle had been 
an unpleasant one. But the Maestro had won. Across 
his right arm, held gingerly away from him, there 
shimmered jusis and pinas. He passed the objects to 
the Maestra with averted eyes and left her in her 
glade. 

Some ten minutes later, as the Maestro was leading 
his boys in their daily calisthenics, a sudden weird 
note came floating mournfully through the water 
logged atmosphere. The Maestro stood still, with at 
tentive ear, and the cry cut itself into unmistakable 
syllables : " Chee-rrries rrri-pa ; chee-rrries rrri-pa ! " 
It came from the girls schoolhouse. 

" One-two ; one-two ! " said the Maestro, and the 
next exercise was so vigorous that before it was fin 
ished the urchins were breathless and drooping. 



BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION 141 

j 

IV 

Crushed into a limp, discouraged mass in the depths 
of his cane chair, the Maestro grasped his head with 
both hands and thought. Thought with the Maestro 
was the sign of deep distress. Usually, he just acted. 

In truth, the situation was not a rosy one. The 
Maestra was still unshaken in her marital determina 
tion; and in symbol of that state of mind she was 
having built a little palm hut on the spot where she 
had camped in Ledesma s cane fields. Three taos, 
impressed by her from her father s dependents, were 
working night and day ; the four corner posts, the 
bamboo-strip floor, the nipa roof, were already up, 
and only the thatch walls remained to be put on. 
From behind the closed shutters of his father s man 
sion, Ledesma saw the fort arise above his sugar- 
canes, and he cowered in dark corners, studying a 
Civil Service pamphlet with vague projects of es 
caping to Manila to study typewriting and enter a 
government office. Also, he had sent an urgent note 
to his father, off in one of their other haciendas, 
bidding him to come back quick to protect him. The 
absence of Ledesma from the boys school was bad 
enough, but much worse was the realisation that the 
truce arranged with the Maestra was fast becoming 
impossible. When the Maestro had bearded Senorita 



CAYBIGAN 

Constancia s mother and had returned triumphant 
with the objects that were to enable the young lady 
to make decent appearance at school, he had forgot 
ten that, in the Philippines, clothes are of the kind 
that must be washed often ; so that, when two days 
later he had to repeat the performance, and saw 
before him a future filled with the same monotonous 
prospect, his ardour had undergone several degrees 
cooling. This very morning the struggle to obtain a 
few shreds of presentable clothing from the irate 
mother had been so violent, and the subsequent walk 
across the plaza with the hard-won bundle, beneath 
the appreciative eyes of the whole town, had been so 
self-conscious that the Maestro had sworn that it was 
the end of that. A better solution, a final solution, 
must be quickly found. 

Out of his bitter reflections the Maestro was sud 
denly startled by a drumming of hoofs and a shout 
outside. He went to the window, and a white man in 
khaki, cork-helmeted, was pulling up his horse before 
the steps. 

" Huston ! " shouted the Maestro, in delighted 
tones. He hop-skipped across the room, dashed down 
the stairs, and whacked the newcomer, just dismount 
ing, a tremendous slap on the back. " You old son- 
of-a-gun," he drawled, tenderly, seizing his hand and 
moving it up and down like a pump-handle. 

The man s eyes gleamed, and a flush of pleasure 



BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION 143 

came to his tanned cheeks. " Here, here, old man," 
he said, deprecatingly, " you don t seem alive to the 
er dignity of my profession." 

"Sky-pilot, eh?" shouted the Maestro. "Gospel- 
sharp; stuck up about it, eh? Darn-if-I-care ; you re 
still a good fellow. Golly, but I m glad to see you," 
he cried, nearly knocking him down with a dig in the 

short ribs. " Gee, but I m glad to see you " and 

he shook him till his teeth rattled. " How long re you 
going to stay? " 

" Three days," answered Huston ; " want to start 
a mission here." 

Tolio, the Maestro s muchacho, was unsaddling the 
pony. The two friends climbed the steps into the 
house. Unbuckling his belt, the missionary threw his 
long Colt s upon the table and dropped into a chair, 
and then they began to talk. It was a strange per 
formance. The words swept out of their mouths in 
an uninterrupted, turgid, furious stream; they 
shouted, stammered, giggled; they laughed like 
artillery thunder, gesticulated like windmills, a hectic 
flush upon their cheeks, their brains awhirl, mad with 
the madness that seizes the man of lone stations when 
at last he can communicate his thoughts, pour out 
what has been dammed in so long, free himself of the 
stagnant burden of never-expressed feeling, emotion, 
inspiration, theories. 

But after a half -hour of this, the Maestro began 



CAYBIGAN 

to subside. Huston still talked, told of the cholera in 
Manapla, the mud between Bago and Jinagaran, the 
palay famine in Oriental Negros, the anti-fraile mob 
in Silay, the embezzlement of the Provincial Treas 
urer. But the Maestro was silent, his eyes upon his 
feet. 

" What the deuce are you thinking about ? " at last 
exclaimed the missionary, suddenly very much aware 
of his loquacity. 

" By Jove, I ve got it," said the Maestro, rising 
to his feet like an automaton, his eyes fixed as if he 
saw written in space the solution of some sore world- 
problem. He took three great strides across the room, 
wheeled, and stopped before the missionary. " Yes, 
sir, I ve got it," he repeated, enthusiasm beginning to 
thrill in his voice. 

" For goodness sake," asked the missionary, " got 
what?" 

" I ve got well, something for you to do," an 
swered the Maestro, enigmatically ; " yes, sir, I ve a 
job for you, Huston." 

He sat down at the table and scribbled two notes. 
" Tolio," he called. The boy appeared at the door. 
" Take this," ordered the Maestro, giving the boy 
the first note, " to Maestro Ledesma. Tell him to 
come right away. Tell him to come around by the 
river so that the Maestra cannot see him." 



BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION 145 

" Si, Senor," said the faithful servant. 

" And after Maestro Ledesma has entered the 
house here, not before, mind you, Tolio, you go to 
Senorita Constancia and give her this note," went on 
the Maestro, giving the boy the second slip of paper. 

" Si, Senor," said the boy, carefully taking one 
note in his left hand and the other in the right. 

The two friends were again left alone, but the spell 
had been broken and they did not renew their outpour 
ings. The Maestro was the prey of a fixed idea. He 
paced back and forth like a lion in his cage, full of 
the fever of resolve. At intervals he punched his left 
palm with his right fist, then varied the performance 
by punching his right palm with his left fist ; inco 
herent exclamations growled in his throat : " He s 
got to, that s all; things are going to smash; I ll 
make him ; it s the only way ! " 

Huston looked on curiously. He had been scrub on 
the football team when the Maestro had been captain 
and star; and the relation had left indelible marks 
upon him in an unreasoning, instinctive respect, a 
subtle sense of inferiority which no achievement in 
after-life would ever enable him to overcome. Now, 
however, this sense of fealty was being rudely put to 
proof. A horrible suspicion was setting his heart 
a-pound. 

The shrinking appearance of Ledesma at the door 



146 CAYBIGAN 

broke the painful silence. He was a slim, limp young 
man, with pomaded hair, clad in a white suit gener 
ously sprinkled with cologne water, and, in spite of 
the cigarette held delicately between his fingers, was 
evidently ill at ease. 

And little chance he had to recover from his emo 
tion. " Ah, Ledesma," said the Maestro, frigidly. 
" I want to talk to you, my boy, and seriously, too. 
Come into my room." 

And, placing a heavy hand upon the young fel 
low s shoulder, he steered him into an interior cham 
ber, closing the door behind them. 

To Huston, left alone, there came sounds of a 
furious altercation that is, furious from one party ; 
for from one weak voice there seemed to come only 
mild expostulation, faint denials, pathetic pleas, neg 
atived by the cold, incisive tones of the Maestro. 
Little by little, however, the begging voice rose, grew 
rebellious, squealed, trembled with an indignation 
that seemed almost righteous. The Maestro began to 
thunder. " You ve got to ; you ve got to," he shouted. 
" I ll make you do it ! " " No, no, I won t," answered 
the other voice, settling down to hogdess, stubborn 
denial; " I won t, I won t ! " 

The door opened and the Maestro dashed out. He 
gave a wild look around the room, and his eyes lit 
upon the missionary s revolver upon the table. He 



BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION 147 

pounced upon it, snapped it open, and the cartridges 
fell out. After a rapid examination, to make sure that 
the cylinder was empty, the Maestro snapped the 
weapon shut again and bounded back into the interior 
room, closing the door after him. Then his voice be 
came icy and menacing. There was a sharp click; 
the protesting voice weakened into a faint wail, and 
there was silence. 

" Huston," shouted the Maestro, " let me know 
when Senorita Constancia comes in." 

But at the sound of the sweet name there was a 
scuffle inside. The door burst open, and Ledesma dived 
head first across the threshold; but a long muscular 
arm went out after him, grabbed him by the trousers, 
and jerked him back inside. 

Again the Maestro s voice rose in a few crisp sen 
tences, and there was no answer to them, only a faint 
snivelling, which diminished gradually. The door 
reopened slowly, and the Maestro and Ledesma came 
in together, arm in arm that is, the Maestro s arm 
was twined flexibly but inexorably about Ledesma s 
limp member. Ferocious triumph beamed upon the 
face of the gentle pedagogue; Ledesma was wilted, 
tear-stained, and despairing. At the same moment, 
radiant, smiling, alert as a kitten, Senorita Constan 
cia appeared at the outer door. She wore a long-train 
blue-silk skirt, a cream-coloured camisa through 



148 CAYBIGAN 

whose shimmering, puffing sleeves her arms glowed 
like frosted gold; over her bare shoulders a jusi 
panuelo was lightly laid, the two ends meeting upon 
her breast in a golden brooch. She swept gracefully 
through the room, her bracelets clinking on her wrists, 
toward Huston, whom she had met before, shook 
hands with him Anglo-Saxon style, bowed to the 
Maestro, calmly ignored Ledesma, and whirred down 
into the depths of a cane chair. 

" Huston," said the Maestro, gravely, " I want you 
to marry these two people." 

But the missionary, so far petrified with wonder, 
suddenly rebelled. " Look here, Paul," he burst out, 
" what kind of a thing are you getting me into? To 
me it looks well, at least irregular, very irregular. 
To tell the truth, old fellow, your actions seem to me 
er well, singular, very singular. I you " 

" You just leave this thing to me," interrupted the 
Maestro, with an authoritative nod toward the poor 
churchman, whose protesting attitude was fast oozing 
away in the subtle sense of inferiority still sticking 
to him from the days when the Maestro was gridiron 
captain and star and he a humble " scrub " ; " you 
just leave that to me. Go ahead with the ceremony ; 
that s all you have to do ! " 

But, with the courage of the meek, Huston fought 
on. " I at least must know," he said, firmly, 



BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION 149 

" whether these two people consent to this er 
union." He turned to the Maestra. " Do you want 
to marry this young man ? " he asked, pointing to the 
snivelling Ledesma. 

" Oh, yes," answered the Maestra, suavely, " he 
must marry me." 

" And you," went on Huston, turning to Ledesma, 
" do you wish to take this maid to wife? " 

Ledesma opened his mouth like a carp, then shut 
it again. He looked fearfully toward the Maestro. 
The Maestro glared significantly. Ledesma s hands 
began to wring each other; beads of perspiration 
appeared about his lips. " I I " he stam 
mered. 

" Look a-here," thundered the Maestro, impa 
tiently ; " what the deuce is the need of all this fuss ? 
He s got to marry her, that s all. He s got to marry 
her, do you understand ? " he repeated, a vision of his 
ruined schools aflame in his mind ; " it s the kind of 
marriage that s got to be, catch on? " 

It is the misfortune of us humans that our speech 
is, after all, but a poor instrument for the expression 
of our thoughts. The same words, the same phrases, 
are capable of diverse interpretation. For instance, 
to the Maestro, the kind of marriage that has to be 
was merely the marriage that would settle the crisis 
of his schools. For the missionary there was only 



150 CAYBIGAN 

one species of marriage that has to be not at all 
that in the Maestro s mind. 

" Oh," said the missionary ; " oh, that s the way it 
is, is it? " He turned to Ledesma and, pointing to 
him a long finger trembling with righteous indigna 
tion, " Stand up and be married, young man," he 
said, icily. 

As Ledesma was already on his feet, the command 
was hardly necessary; but it dashed out of that 
youth s heart the last spark of hope that had flamed 
up at the missionary s intervention. Taking Senorita 
Constancia s arm, the Maestro led her to the groom. 

" Take her hand," said the missionary, sternly. 

Tremblingly the groom obeyed, and was bound for 
better or for worse. 

It cannot be said that the ceremony was followed 
by the usual joyous whirr of congratulations. The 
bride calmly turned her back upon the groom and 
engaged Huston in a lively conversation. The Maes 
tro, suddenly turned craven, went out into the kitchen 
on the pretext of seeking refreshments, and mean 
while Ledesma quietly but hurriedly slunk out of the 
house. The Maestra, from the window, saw him run 
ning along the street, but she only laughed. She alone 
was at ease. The Maestro, returning with a bottle of 
Spanish wine and a plate of bananas, seemed to have 
lost all his assurance ; the missionary s virtuous indig- 



BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION 151 

nation was fast leaving him, in spite of his efforts, 
and doubt again was disturbing his spirit. There was 
something ominous in the air. 

Nor was this presentiment to prove a false one. 
Perhaps half an hour later, as the Maestra was say 
ing good-by, Isidro pattered in with a note to the 
Maestro. It was from Ledesma. 



SENOR MAESTRO, TYRANT AND DARKEST DESPOT: 
When you will receive this note I will be gone and out of 
the reach of your most unjust, tyrannic and unholy arm. 
I am embarking at the present time upon a banca, I will 
take a lorcha at the dismouthing of the Hog River to Ho 
llo and from that charming city I will go to Manila to 
study typewriting and thus enable me to enter the Ad 
ministration of the Government of this my sore-tried and 
much in the past tyrannized and devastated country 
which will rise like the phenix bird from its cinders, 
blooming afresh from the long-sleeping volcano when it 
awakes and lights up the world with the blessings of 
Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity which to my ignorant 
countrymen I will teach like the swallow which none die 
without God on High knowing it feed his little young 
one that do not know how to flie above the dark ignorance 
at the all-around of them. It gives me great pleasure, 
Oh, sir, to proclamate to you that the unholy union in 
which you like the blackest czar of despotic Russia 
forced upon my palpitating heart is null. My father 
who has returned from his hacienda tells me that accord 
ing to the law I cannot marry without his permission 
until I am twenty-five. I am only twenty and my father 
Oh, sir, how sweetly paternal is a father will not per- 



152 CAYBIGAN 

son, so my so-called marriage is a void, 
mit me to marry Sefiorita Constancia de la Rama y Lac- 
Hoping sir, that Remorse will soon cause your heart 
to weep I am 

No longer your pupil and assistant-maestro 

MAURO LEDESMA Y GOLES. 

" Thunder ! " exclaimed the Maestro, suddenly 
again belligerent. " Let s get after him ! " 

But the Maestra had picked up the letter and was 
reading it. 

" Oh," she said, when she had finished ; " oh, that is 
very nice. Now I can what you call ? ah, divorce ; 
I can divorce just like an American girl! " 

And thus it is that the Girls School of B alangi- 
lang is still the envy of the maestros for leagues 
around. 



VII 
A JEST OF THE GODS 

IT was rather a disreputable place, and really we 
were there by chance, a dance upon the British war 
ship anchored near Cavite and the breakdown of the 
returning launch leaving us upon the stone quay of 
the Binondo estero at a shameful hour. The time 
spent bobbing upon the waters while with fervent 
ejaculations the engineer experimented with the friv 
olous gasoline engine had been ecstatically cool. Now 
the city exhaled upon us her feverish breath, in a 
short time the sun would pour down its blistering 
rays, and we could not bear thought of room and bed. 
So we sat around the big narra table at Timke s, 
clinking with straws the ice in our glasses. 

There was a scuffle in an obscure corner of the 
room ; then, carried by muchachos, there passed be- 
neath the light a limp, dangling corpse. They were 
not over-careful, the muchachos. Two were at the 
legs, two at the arms, so that the head hung down, 
lamentable, with mouth open. They crossed the room 
and vanished through a door into the rear apartment ; 

153 



154 CAYBIGAN 

and our last glimpse was of the opalescent reflection 
of a lamp upon a cranium astonishingly bald. 

" Old man Dickson," somebody said, significantly ; 
" paralysed, as usual." 

" That man," said Courtland, with a vague gesture 
toward the door just slammed ; " that man is the vic 
tim of a most atrocious and absurd tragedy." 

And he told it to us thus : 

I first knew him through his newspaper work. 
Every morning he shuffled gently into my office and 
asked if there was anything new. He did this with a 
want of assurance strange in a reporter, and yet not 
at all with humility ; but rather in a dreamy, detached 
manner, as if he really did not care if there was any 
thing new, and would probably not remember it if 
there were ; as if the thing of importance, after all, 
were the internal problem upon which he was ponder 
ing, pondering with a discreet intensity that left his 
arms to hang in uncouth limpness, his feet to drag, 
his head to sink sideways toward his right shoulder, 
his whole body to appear as if abandoned, utterly 
abandoned, of the spiritual being to hang, loose, 
limp, ungoverned, like a scarcrow which lives, ges 
ticulates, postures only with the caprices of the wind. 
His whole body, I said ; I should except the eyes. They 
were magnificent eyes, large, limpid, serenely blue. 



A JEST OF THE GODS 155 

They were not abandoned; they were fixed. But it 
was not at anything outside. It was at something 
within. As you sought them you became aware of 
that. You were not seen you were not of importance. 
The sun, the sky, men, women, were not seen they 
were not of importance. These eyes were looking in 
side. As you examined them, you realised that it was 
the back of them that was turned toward you, the 
reflective back wall of them, and that their working, 
searching, penetrating part was turned inward, por 
ing there in the shifting gloom at I don t know what 
vision. 

Don t think that I noted all this at first. It came 
slowly, by degrees. No, the first thing that im 
pressed me was his baldness, his extraordinary 
baldness. It seems nothing to tell you that on 
his head there was not a suspicion of hair ; that s 
common enough, doesn t express it at all. Like 
wise to explain that there were no brows, that the 
lashes were gone, that, of course, his whole face 
was hairless this is prattle, mere childish, puerile 
prattle. Usual expressions, the ordinarily adequate 
figures comparisons with knees, with billiard balls 
sink into impotence, are sacrilege before the Awful- 
ness of the thing. Nothing usual can express it. It 
was something appalling. It was a curse, a visitation. 
It was as if God s lightning had struck his pate, 



156 CAYBIGAN 

blasted it clean No, that does not express it. There 
was something solid, established, immutable about the 
thing that cannot be explained by visions of acci 
dents, of cataclysms, however potent. It savoured 
rather of some law of Nature, of the patient, irre 
vocable work of obscure Forces through the ages 
say like the glacier-polishing of granite domes such 
as I ve seen in the California Sierra, something 
geologic and eternal. Yes, that was it : that man s pate 
must have been polished and repolished with malevo 
lent earnestness for years, for ages, through incon 
ceivable aeons. His father, his grandfather, his 
ancestors after and before the deluge, from the first 
day of creation, nay, back into the reign of chaos, 
must have been bald, abominably bald, to explain that 
mournful head there before me. As a matter of fact, 
I should have been surprised at something else; for, 
at the sight of a volume lying open upon my desk, 
he had launched upon a dissertation on Keats, some 
thing absolutely precious in quaint insight, in sub 
tlety of appreciation. But I was fascinated with the 
head; that baldness held me in its toils, froze my 
eyes, tugged my heart, drugged my brains. And it 
was not till he had gone that I realised I had been 
listening to exquisite discourse. 

Do not be too much surprised. Such a thing is to 
be accepted, almost expected, from a Manila news- 



A JEST OF THE GODS 157 

paper man. The Manila newspaper man is a singular 
genus. Always he has talent ; sometimes more than 
that. But of course there s always something the 
matter. This something is what makes him so 
interesting. And it leads, also, to a certain conven 
tionality in intercourse with him. For instance, to a 
Manila newspaper man you never mention the Past. 
There is no past. He is supposed to have sprung like 
Venus from the sea, full-panoplied with his educa 
tion, his talent, his gentle scepticism right on the 
Escolta. That s the rule. 

I knew the rule; so if I broke it, it shows merely 
that my awakened curiosity was too much for my 
savoir faire. I wanted to know, that s all. I searched 
for and found his haunt. 

Every evening, after his work, he crossed over to 
the Metropole. He had a queer, apologetic way of 
progressing, with his right side ahead of his left, 
as if ceaselessly jostled by an imaginary crowd. Gen 
tly, with that sideways motion, he shuffled into the 
big room and made for a table in the corner of the 
veranda. He was always very cleanly dressed in 
white, unstarched, which I suspected was the result 
of his own industry in his little back room; but his 
shoes were down by the heels, which added greatly 
to the general humility of his appearance. Carefully 
he placed his chair at a certain distance, known of 



158 CAYBIGAN 

him only, from the table ; then he sat down slowly, 
folded his arms upon the table, his body inclined a 
little forward. Without a movement of the folded 
arms he raised one finger of the right hand, in a 
gesture almost heraldic in its sobriety, and the boy, 
attentive by his side, immediately brought him a 
small glass of cloudy green liquid. This he sipped 
slowly. A gray, opalescent cloud came over his eyes ; 
his head fell slightly toward his right shoulder in an 
attitude of careful consideration. When he had fin 
ished, he remained thus a long time, immovable, petri 
fied in his gentle brooding; then up would go his 
finger in that strange gesture, almost imperceptible, 
but infinitely commanding, as if it came not from him 
self, but as a manifestation of some superior power 
and the boy, attentive, immediately brought 
another glass of the cloudy-green stuff, which he 
sipped to the dregs, motionless and fatal like some 
hierarchic figure. Two hours, three hours, he kept 
this up, then suddenly he moved. Both his arms went 
up and around in a wide, noble gesture ; his hands 
long, fine-veined hands settled upon his head, his 
absurd bald head, as if in protection, in vague pro 
test at possible levity; he leaned forward and was 
asleep. He slept there, upon the table, his hands upon 
his head, his cheek upon his arms ; his face, turned to 
the light, was relaxed in infinite lassitude, as a child s 



A JEST OF THE GODS 159 

after crying; his mouth, slightly open, let pass his 
breathing, faint, like a babe s and once in a while 
he sighed, a sigh not deep, not peevish, not rebellious, 
but resigned, rather, patient and unhappy. There 
was something incredibly babyish about the whole 
thing the sleep, the sigh, the posture, even that 
extraordinary bald head gleaming between the fingers, 
pudgy with shadow something that would have 
drawn the heart of woman in tenderness, tugged at it 
with the pang-desire to console, to cherish, to kiss. 
Yes, a woman would have kissed that absurd bald 
head, would have smothered that gentle sigh. A 
woman would have, I tell you ! And he didn t know, 
didn t know, the fool baby-man! 

After a time I began to sit at his table. He ac 
cepted me without emotion. Life to him, evidently, 
was full of such facts as my presence there, facts to 
which one must adapt one s self with the least possi 
ble fuss. He seemed, in fact, in perpetual process of 
readjustment. He d sit there quietly, sipping his 
green poison, till diabolically I d mention some name 
of literary fame. It was like pressing a button the 
effect was so instantaneously sure. First would come 
a few detached sentences, like a modulation. Then 
insensibly he had slid into the main theme, and it was 
what shall I call it? exquisite, there s no other 
word for it. There was such depth to the thing, such 



160 CAYBIGAN 

subtlety of dissection, such a wealth of sudden, baring 
illuminations and all that cloaked, softened in a 
haze of gentle scepticism that left nothing of dog 
matic asperities. I compared it with the snorting, 
imperial utterances of my German Professor at col 
lege. It was French, that s what it was, in its breadth, 
its charity, its continual attenuation and inter-cor 
rection, its horror of the dictatorial, the pedantic. 
But don t think that he animated himself in this. No, 
he kept his immovable I came near saying " silent," 
and really, even while he spoke, he gave an impression 
of silence his immovable, detached calm. All this, 
it came as from another man. It was another man, 
the past man. He was not creating now; he was 
merely re-reading the creations of the past man, 
objectively, too, with a certain mild astonishment at 
the performance. 

" You must have studied deeply," I said, one night, 
as I sat, still dazzled, long after he had spoken his 
last word. 

He looked at me hazily. " I have my Harvard Ph. 
D.," he said, absent-mindedly. "I lectured after 
ward." 

" Then, for God s sake," I blurted out, tortured 
by the vision of that life calmly ruining itself ; " for 
God s sake, what are you doing here? " 

His eyes turned absolutely inside out. From their 



A JEST OF THE GODS 161 

interior contemplation they flashed outward. He was 
looking at me; for the first time I had that feeling 
completely that he was looking at me, a hard, pro 
found, startled stare. 

Then, before I could make a movement, a gesture 
of protest, he had risen to his feet. " Good-night," 
he said, brusquely, and he had shuffled out of the 
room. 

For three days he did not appear. I had hurt him, 
insulted him. I waited for him, with a desire for 
reparation. Yet when he finally came I saw that I 
was mistaken. There was no resentment, absolutely 
none, in his manner as he shuffled up to the table and 
sat down. But before even the usual green poison 
had been set before him he had drawn from his breast 
pocket a square piece of cardboard and had thrown 
it to me. 

I looked at it stupidly, at first without comprehen 
sion. Then the whole thing flashed upon me in an 
understanding so sudden, so complete, so profound, 
that it simply dazed me, left me there inert between 
two extraordinary and conflicting desires to laugh 
and weep laugh, extravagantly, madly; weep, 
with the same abandon, thoroughly, humidly, senti 
mentally. 

It was an answer to my question. And it was a 
picture. A picture of himself I recognised the fine, 



162 CAYBIGAN 

white forehead, the sensitive mouth, the wide, pure 
eyes. But on the cranium there was hair, hair, do 
you hear? Not a little of it, not a mere trifle, but 
hair, an abundance of it, a magnificent leonine mane, 
a wealth of it, waving and rolling, curling over the 
ears, setting off the whole person in distinction. There 
was hair on his head ; there were brows over his eyes, 
dark brows that must have contrasted finely with the 
wide, blue orbs. There it was, the answer. He had 
had hair; he was bald. This was the whole of his 
ridiculous tragedy. He had had hair, do you under 
stand? and now he had none. 

There I had it, complete ; but he evidently did not 
think so. Or rather he didn t bother about me at all. 
A powerful impulse to unburden himself possessed 
him now ; all the accumulated wonder and pain at 
Fate s wanton outrage poured out of him, hurling 
away like so much chaff the rigid dam of restraint 
held against it so long. He talked now, at first in 
broken phrases, then more freely as he went on, in a 
smooth current, hopeless, fatalistic, but tinged with 
a strange self-compassion. And yet there was the old 
detachment. He seemed analysing someone else, tell 
ing the pitiful adventure of some other man, as if he 
could not believe it had occurred to himself, as if his 
credulity did not suffice before the wonder and cruelty 
of the thing. A mild astonishment pervaded him. 



A JEST OF THE GODS 163 

It had begun with a little gray spot on the crown, 
a very little spot. That was several years ago. He 
counted, and I was astonished : he must be very young 
yet. He didn t pay much attention to it. He was 
happy, then, he explained, and it took much to bother 
him. He had just accepted a post in the English 
department of a Western University. It was a lovely 
place, by the sea. There were hills behind, all velvety 
gray and gold. His house was covered with climbing 
roses, absolutely covered, embowered in them like a 
nest. His associations were pleasant; he loved his 
work. His lectures were attracting some attention. 
It was lovely. He was happy. And then there 
was 

He stopped and was silent quite a while; his eyes, 
hazy with retrospection, took on tones of marvellous 
softness. And when he began again I had the impres 
sion that he had left out something. 

Well, after a while that little patch of gray hair 
began falling out, and finally it was a neat round ton 
sure on the top of the head. Then, down by his right 
ear, another spot began to gray. He watched it with 
some concern. After a while, just as before, the gray 
hair fell out, and he had two little bald places. It 
began to make some difference, really. The first little 
tonsure was at least symmetrical, could be called 
interesting. But that incongruous spot above his 



164 CAYBIGAN 

right ear no words could soften that. It was at 
least strange, singular. 

People thought it so ; at least he imagined that they 
did. Sometimes a co-ed in his class would break out in 
a sudden giggle. That hurt his work. He studied 
much over his lectures ; but as to the form, he was 
wont to extemporise a great deal. And one can t ex 
temporise while a co-ed giggles. Besides, he was in 
the grasp of a perverse doom. A third gray spot had 
appeared, above the neck. He knew that three bald 
spots would be clear ridicule. He began to haunt bar 
ber shops; oils, restorers, all sorts of extravagant 
shampoos did no good. Soon three bald spots shone 
white, like famine in the remaining luxuriance of his 
hair. 

There was no mistaking it now. At first, at the 
Faculty Club, they had slapped him on the back and 
joked. Now they were discreetly and ominously silent. 
The very word hair, when dropped by some giddy 
confrere, fell into something like a vacuum of sombre 
consternation. In the lecture room he often lost 
the thread of his thought, remained long pained 
minutes in speechless befuddlement. It was becom 
ing intolerable. 

Then came the crowning disaster. In the blindness 
of his desperation he was induced by a magazine 
advertisement to try some new and wondrous hair- 



A JEST OF THE GODS 165 

remedy. The result was fatal. The stuff turned in 
spots the colour of his hair from brown to rusty red. 
In spots, mind you ; so that now he was piebald red, 
brown, gray, and white. The morning that, before a 
glass, he faced the hideous fact, he nearly cut his 
throat. And he was never able to get to his lecture. 
He tried three times ; three times he stalked firmly 
along the walk, his hat pulled deep about his shame ; 
he circled the Hall a dozen times. He could not enter, 
simply could not. 

Happily, it was near the summer vacation, and he 
had no trouble obtaining leave for the rest of the 
term. He fled the college town. He wandered through 
the big city nearby, aimless, alone, tortured. A good 
deal of his time was spent upon the water-front. It s 
always windy there, and men pull their hats down 
about their ears. Ships began to exercise on him a 
strange fascination. He dreamed of islands, desert 
islands, lonely, unpeopled islands. One day, hardly 
aware of it, he walked the plank of a little brigantine 
the Tropic Bird, some such name and begged 
the captain to take him. The captain did, as a green 
hand. They sailed off. 

He was still full of gratitude toward that captain. 
It seemed that he never could get used to seamen s 
work. " I couldn t climb spars," he explained ; " I d 
get dizzy. I tried and tried; I couldn t." The cap- 



166 CAYBIGAN 

tain made a cabin-boy of him. Hence his eternal grat 
itude. " He was a gentleman, a thorough gentleman, 
with all his roughness. When he saw that I couldn t 
climb spars, he made me a cabin boy. I swabbed the 
floor, waited at meals, washed dishes, and helped the 
cook. That captain, sir, was a gentleman ! " 

Really, he was absolutely broken. The insidious 
disease was continuing its damnable work. From 
Honolulu they picked up a charter for the Philip 
pines. When they arrived in Manila, he was abso 
lutely bald, bald as I saw him now. " No hair, no 
brows, no lashes ; bald, ludicrous, ignoble, unclean ! " 
He raised one finger ; the boy ran to him ; he sipped 
the green liquor. 

But he did not stop there. He began it again, the 
lamentable tale, with new details, with inexorable pre 
cision. He was a long time on a description of his 
departed hair. A wealth of adjectives, subtle and 
splendid, came to his lips without effort. He found 
new, caressing words, as a mother speaking of her 
dead babe. And one got no impression of vanity from 
it, either. It was something past now, extraneous, 
so irrevocably detached from him that he could speak 
of it without egotism. He dwelled again upon his 
happiness the Western College, the silvery hills, the 
rose-covered cottage. " And then there was " 

Again he stopped, and again, when he resumed, I 



A JEST OF THE GODS 167 

had the impression of something vital left out. It was 
this, I think, that kept me at it ; for every night, now, 
I heard it, the odious story, with an augmentation 
of details, a progressive firmness of construction. 
He d begin with his gray spot and run the whole 
gamut of his pilous degradation. I grew infinitely 
weary of it, but there was the secret, the secret still 
held from me. It was exasperation at this continuous 
evasion, I think, coupled with invincible lassitude at 
the old tale, that led me, one night, madly to exclaim : 

" Yes, yes, Dickson ; but the girl, the girl ; tell me 
about the girl now ! " 

By his sudden start, by his affrighted stare, I 
knew that I had hit it, absolutely hit it. Oh, no, I 
don t take much credit for that. Cherchez la femme; 
divested of the cynicism placed upon it by its makers, 
this precept is fundamental in the game of human 
analysis. 

There was a She yes, there was. A young girl 
(he s far from old himself, remember, in spite of his 
pate) ; an angel. He loved her; she loved him. She 
had a precious gift of imagination. He had hoped, 
under his critical guidance, to see it bloom into some 
thing a talent, a genius, perhaps. But now 

" Man, man ! " I almost screamed ; " you fool, you 
imbecile; why don t you go back, go back to her? 
What the deuce is it, this more or less vegetation upon 



168 CAYBIGAN 

your head, when you have that, that of all things 
precious, when you have Love, Love, man ! " 

I was furious with him. I talked in the same vein, 
very extravagantly, no doubt. I gesticulated; I 
shouted. He listened quietly, a considering frown 
over his browless eyes. 

No, it could not be ; it could not be. I didn t under 
stand, couldn t understand. He had left when it be 
gan. I couldn t understand. He used to walk with 
her in the evening. He was working hard those days ; 
at night he d be tired. They d stroll gently up a can 
yon (Co-ed Canyon, I think he called it). They d sit 
in the grass. He d rest his head on her shoulder. 
Then she d stroke that tired head, run her light fin 
gers through his 

" Man, man ! " he shouted ; " imagine that, now. 
Imagine me there once more, and she, with that 
familiar gesture, that sacred gesture, running her 
fingers " 

Slowly he passed his hands over the atrocious 
smoothness of his cranium in a long, shuddering 
movement. " Imagine that," he said, once more, in a 
broken whisper. 

He raised his finger. He sipped. I gave up. Really, 
you know, the way he told it, it was rather convincing. 
I left him to his self-abasement. He lived on his 
harmless life: by day the uncongenial task; the 



A JEST OF THE GODS 169 

maudlin dissipation by night. And every evening he 
told me his story, his lugubrious story, till at times 
a whiff of his madness communicated itself to me, 
entered my blood, and, taking up my own particular 
wrongs, I descended with him into orgies of tremulous 
self-compassion. 

Then occurred something which gave me a ray of 
hope. 

It was at a fire. Cholera had broken out in the city 
and the health officials, with that brisk cruelty in 
which revels man, from medieval inquisitor to common 
policeman, when persuaded of the righteousness of his 
cause, were cleaning out barrios. This particular bar 
rio was a miserable assemblage of nipa huts in the 
Paco district. It was burning well when I arrived, 
in one large, clear flame that rose with a single, pow 
erful twist toward a sky purple with sunset. It was 
quite a fine spectacle. Society had deserted the Lu- 
neta drive for the more flaring show ; out on the rosy 
edge of the conflagration was an intricacy of vic 
torias and calesins ; a stamping of pony hoofs. Jusis 
shimmered; white suits gleamed; beneath the crack 
ling of tortured nipa rose a low hum of polite con 
versation, musical laughter, melodious Ohs and Ahs 
at particularly brilliant pyrotechnics. All Society 
was there, reclining upon cushioned seats with a fine 
feeling of security before this proof of official energy. 



170 CAYBIGAN 

But in the shadow, on the other side, I could vaguely 
descry other spectators, unkempt men and women, 
standing up, stiff and motionless, with little bundles 
in their hands, on their heads, stupid before this 
magnificent destruction of their homes. Probably it 
had never occurred to them that these huts, these 
hearths, held such possibilities of splendour. The 
revelation paralysed them. They gazed with wide- 
open eyes, with open mouths, silent, dark, immov 
able. 

Then suddenly, in the peace, the security of the 
moment, there rose a shrill, mad cry, right from the 
flames. The buzz of conversation halted brusquely. 
White handkerchiefs rose convulsively to whitening 
lips. The firemen, off on one side, began an inexplica 
ble running to and fro. The nipa roared. And right 
from the flame, in maddening continuance, as if from 
a soul body less and in torture, came the high, shrill, 
quavering cry. 

Ladies began to faint in their victorias; officers 
bent over them in impotent solicitude, their faces as 
white as the women s. Other men sprang from their 
carriages with extraordinary resolution, ran forward 
and stopped short before the heat. A Met. policeman, 
huge and gaunt, skipped up and down in some sort 
of monstrous dance, wringing his hands in plain 
view. But on the other side, the sombre spectators 



A JEST OF THE GODS 171 

remained banked in immobility. Only, their eyes 
opened wider and their pupils gleamed. 

Then I saw Dickson. He was walking toward the 
furnace, his right shoulder pushed forward, his body 
flattened apologetically, begging passage through an 
imaginary throng. He entered the circle of light ; a 
whiff of hot air sent his hat off, and his head, his 
monstrous bald head, shone a moment in rosy hues. 
I shouted. He kept straight on, humble, mournful. A 
roar of warning, of astonishment, came from the 
crowd. He kept on, his head pensively drooped side 
ways. He disappeared into the fire. Shrieks, yells, 
a terrific tumult came from the carriages. And still, 
as if borne up in the flame, springing with one single, 
powerful twist to the purple sky, there rang the long, 
shrill, continuous cry. It rose louder, more piercing, 
till it vibrated in our marrow in intolerable pain. And 
then we became aware that it was nearer it was 
among us. A muffled, dripping, inchoate figure was 
stumbling into the outer circle of light. I sprang for 
ward; I tore off the dripping mantle, and there was 
Dickson, his head dropped sideways, pensively consid 
ering a little girl in his arms, a little Malay girl, half- 
naked, who screamed still, too dazed with the horror 
to know that it was past. 

Really, he started to protest right away, it was 
quite easy. And he made it almost so with his calm 



172 CAYBIGAN 

explanation. The huts were built on poles, so that 
the fire was rather high, and close to the ground it 
was not so hot rather cool, he would have us be 
lieve. Then the barrio was laid out with a plaza in 
the centre, and it was there that, crouching on the 
ground, the little girl had been, still unhurt. He had 
noticed, before going in, a pile of old blankets lying 
in the dirt, and a barrel of water, the barrio s old 
supply, nearby. By soaking the blankets, muffling 
them about him and keeping low, he had been able to 
get in and out without much discomfort he coughed 
a little smoke, that s all, a few superficial burns 
he staggered. 

Many willing hands there were to claim the little 
girl, who was sobbing gently now. We started toward 
my carriage. A thunder of clapping hands, a roar of 
acclaim, announced his first step, and then his calm 
deserted him. " My hat, my hat ! " he shouted ; 
" where s my hat? Give it to me quick!" He trem 
bled with excitement. He began to swear. " My hat ; 
who s got my hat? " he shrieked, absolutely unstrung. 
I gave him mine. He crushed it down to his ears. We 
slunk off to the carriage, and I drove off with my 
Hero cowering and darting haunted side-looks. 

As we passed the Parian gate, he said : " Come on ; 
let s go to the Metropole." 

" No, you don t," I said, briskly. " You re going 



A JEST OF THE GODS 173 

straight to your room. You re going to sit down, 
with a box of cigars at your elbow. You re going to 
think, sit up all night and think. I ll give you the 
theme. Imagine Her at that fire, a while ago. Imagine 
Her impression, and weigh that against the puerility 
of hair." 

" Good Lord, Courtland, what a sentimentalist you 
are," he exclaimed. " What a sentimentalist ! " he re 
peated, a while later, musingly. 

But he did not get off at the Metropole, and I left 
him at the door of his house. He was not at the 
Metropole the next day, nor the next, nor the next. 
A week later I heard that he had gone over to a 
new paper, under much more pleasant management, 
and that he held a desk position. I did not follow the 
evolution closely, for I was busy those days. We had 
been wrestling long with the monetary problem, and 
now the United States Government was sending us an 
Expert, an Authority, a Professor Jenkinson, who 
was to settle the whole thing for us as by legerdemain. 
We were preparing data for him and were infernally 
busy. But what I did see of Dickson was rather en 
couraging. The little red veins were disappearing 
from his cheeks, a certain twitch of the right corner 
of his mouth was relaxing; an indefinable briskness 
was pervading his whole being, the manner of the 
man who works hard and likes his work. 



174 CAYBIGAN 

Finally the Big Man came. There was a tremor of 
expectation in official and social circles official, for 
obvious reasons; in social, because of the charming 
fact that the Professor came to Manila with a bride, 
romantically wooed and won in California, in pass 
ing, as it were. A reception was announced at the 
Malicanan. 

I went. I was late. The place was ablaze with 
lights as I drove up, and polite conversation hummed 
out of the windows like honey-laden bees. I did 
not leave my carriage right away, my curiosity 
being aroused by the suspicious behaviour of a 
man. 

He was dodging among the shadows like a malefac 
tor, first behind one veranda post, then behind an 
other. Then he stood a while at the bottom of the 
steps, buttoning up his white jacket with an air of 
great resolution, and mounted. He got up four steps, 
then, suddenly turning, pell-melled down again in 
ridiculous funk. More sneaking in the massed gloom 
beneath the veranda ; then again he stood at the bot 
tom of the steps, pulling down his jacket in immense 
resolution. Up half-a-dozen steps, and again the hel 
ter-skelter retreat. But this time I had followed, and 
he ran plump into my arms. 

It was Dickson, and his face in the light showed 
shockingly haggard. I don t think he knew me at 



A JEST OF THE GODS 175 

first. But when he did, he gripped my arm convul 
sively and ran me into the shadow. 

" What the devil " I began, exasperated. 

" It is she," he said ; " she my God! " 

" She," I repeated, stupidly ; " who is she? " 

" Mrs. Jenkinson," he gasped ; " good God, Court- 
land, can t you understand? The girl, the girl, you 
know she s up there " he pointed upward to the 
light " she s up there ; she s Mrs. Jenkinson ! " 

I was incredibly affected. A great disillusion, an 
immense discouragement, weighed upon me. I discov 
ered that I had dreamed, that I had hoped, that I had 
taken an enormous interest in that idiotic man, there, 
with his absurd moral problem. And this thing, this 
sudden finale, staggered me, seemed wanton and cruel 
as the torturing of a little child. I was speechless. 

After a while he said, very calmly, very firmly: 
" Courtland, I want to see her, once more. No, there 
won t be any scene. I won t come near; I won t be 
seen. But I must see her, once more. Take me up 
there." 

I seized his arm and we climbed the stairs. We 
came to the threshold of the big reception room. I 
stood there a moment, dazed by the lights, the play of 
colour. Then I made her out in the centre. He had 
been quicker than I, for I had felt his fingers sink 
convulsively into my arm. 



176 CAYBIGAN 

She was standing within a circle of bowing, smil 
ing men a gracious, girlish figure, with magnificent 
dark eyes. She was evidently a little bored not 
bored : lonely. Unconsciously her eyes wandered from 
the curvetting bipeds in front, in search of some 
thing, some warmer, more intimate sympathy, toward 
a knot of black-garbed men conversing seriously in a 
corner the official group, I decided, right away. 
Perhaps one of these appealing glances reached it, 
for it broke; a tall figure stalked across the room 
toward her. It was the Big Man you could tell it 
from the sudden illumination of her whole being. 
She looked up, girlish, admiring. He looked down, 
protectingly. I heard Dickson panting behind 
me. 

A horrid, racking feeling took possession of me, a 
mad, monstrous desire to laugh, laugh insanely, in 
maniac shrieks, to shout and slap my thighs, stamp 
my feet, scream, scandalise 

The Professor, standing beneath the centre cande 
labra, bent his head paternally over his young wife. 
The light poured down upon that head. And it was 
bald. 

The muchacho, in a corner of the room, turned 
something with a sharp click. The lights went out, 
and the gray pallor of dawn floated in slowly by door 



A JEST OF THE GODS 177 

and window. Courtland rose, walked to the rear door, 
opened it. We followed. 

He was asleep upon the table. He slept there, his 
hands upon his head, his right cheek upon his arm. 
In the wan light his features showed relaxed, in 
infinite lassitude, as those of a child after crying; 
his mouth, a little open, let pass his breathing, equal 
and faint like a babe s and once in a while he sighed, 
a sigh not deep, not peevish, not rebellious, but re 
signed, rather, patient, gently unhappy. 

We left him there. It was the end; the gods had 
had their jest. 



VIII 
THE COMING OF THE MAESTRA 

A S the prao, its two wide outriggers spread out on 
each side like wings, its sail rising above straight and 
stiff like a backfin, skimmed over the whitecapped 
crests like a gigantic flying fish, the Maestro, his 
white suit gleaming in the sun, stood at the peak, 
erect and tense as a Viking of old. But he was 
madder than any Viking had ever been. 

For three long days he had been on that prao, while 
it tacked and beat against a monsoon that was south 
ern, although, according to the dictates of the 
almanac and the Maestro s own ardent desires, it 
should have been northern. For three days, trying 
to make Ilo-Ilo, thirty miles across the strait, the lit 
tle craft, with its crew clinging like monkeys at the 
ends of the outriggers, had darted right and left like 
a startled and very dizzy gull, while from the rudi 
mentary rudder, where sat the Maestro, there poured 
forth a stream of most piratical objurgations. 
Neither these spiritual pleas, however, nor the mad 
flurries of the flat-bottomed boat had prevailed against 
the wind s blustering stubbornness, and at length they 

178 






COMING OF THE MAESTRA 179 

had turned tail and run before it, and now the Maes 
tro was looking upon a golden strip of beach and a 
curtain of coconut palms, behind which peeped the 
nipa roofs of his own little pueblo. In a few minutes 
more the prao, balanced upon a white curling swell, 
had slid its nose up upon the sand, and the Maestro, 
with a great leap, found himself at the identical spot 
from which, three days before, his heart a-pound with 
strange tumult, he had embarked, too impatient to 
wait for the lazy little steamer which offered regular, 
if slow, passage once a week. 

" Damn ! " said the Maestro, as his foot struck the 
sand. " Damn ! a deuce of a bridegroom I make, I 
do!" 

But Tolio, his muchacho, who had stayed behind 
in guard of the house, was running down the beach 
toward him, waving a dirty piece of paper. It was a 
telegram, transmitted by carrier from Bacolod, which 
was in cable communication with Ilo-Ilo. The Maes 
tro read it quickly ; then he re-read it aloud, pausing 
upon each word as if to sink its dread significance 
deep into his dazed brain. 

" Have missed you in Ilo-Ilo. Am coming on to 
morrow s steamer. Girlie." 

Behind the Maestro a cast-up log was bleaching 
in the sun, and he sat down upon it very suddenly and 
limply, as if his bony carcass had turned to water. 



180 CAYBIGAN 

" Lordie," he murmured, " and the sky-pilot gone 
south!" 

And truly the situation was a delicate one. For 
" Girlie " of the telegram was none other than Miss 
Florence Yeats, come ten thousand miles over the sea 
to wed him. He should have met her in Ilo-Ilo, 
where the whole American population had made glee 
ful preparations for the event ; but his uncalculating 
impatience and the immoral conduct of the winds had 
foiled him in his attempted crossing of the straits 
from his own town in Negros; and now she was 
coming by the day s steamer with the sky -pilot, oth 
erwise Rev. David Houston, head of the United Prot 
estant Missions of Negroes, who might have afforded 
a much-needed alternative, far, far away on an in 
spection tour to the southern stations of the island, 
and not likely to be back for a month. 

So the Maestro remained on his log, inwardly tossed 
by a cyclone of contradictory feelings. He could but 
admire the splendid confidence of the girl, coming 
straight to him without a question after he had failed 
her, failed her in an appointment to be classed among 
those, well, of higher importance. At the same time 
it did seem to him that some kind person in Ilo-Ilo 
might have warned her of the fact that he was abso 
lutely the only white man in his town, and at that 
neither a clergyman nor justice of the peace. He did 



COMING OF THE MAESTRA 181 

not rise and go home, where he could have spent a 
very profitable hour changing his bedraggled gar 
ments and washing his salt-grimed face. The crisis 
was too near for that. The little wheezy teapot of a 
steamer, with its precious and disturbing freight, 
was due in anywhere from one to four hours ; and he 
would not have missed the sight of its first smoky 
signal at the horizon for luxuries much more dazzling. 
So, joyful and unhappy, expectant and horrified, he 
sat there, while Jack, his little fox terrier, who had 
come down with Tolio, romped unappreciated between 
his legs. Out a few hundred yards from shore, 
planted upon a submerged sand bar, a long bamboo 
fish-corral screened the horizon ; and the Maestro re 
cited metally to himself the approach of the little 
steamer. The smoke would first appear at the lower 
end, then slowly would crawl along behind the high 
paling, slowly, very slowly, till finally the ship itself 
would burst into view past the upper end, and stand 
for shore. And then 

But it was a good hour before the Maestro finally 
rose to his feet. " Ah," he said, " here she comes." 

Behind the fish-corral, at its lower end, a thin 
thread of vapour was mounting toward the sky. The 
Maestro s heart expanded queerly within his breast. 
But as he looked, behind the exasperating barrier a 
big yellow ring, as from some gigantic pipe, rose 



182 CAYBIGAN 

slowly, then another that broke through the first, and 
a third that enveloped them all in one ugly smother. 

"Good golly," ejaculated the Maestro, "but the 
little kettle is steaming ! " 

And the smoke, beginning to crawl along the corral, 
ceased puffing up in rings ; it rose in one dense, funnel- 
shaped cloud. " It s that soft Japanese coal," mur 
mured the Maestro, " that darned Japanese coal ! " 

But with eyes staring ahead, as if hypnotised, he 
was walking down the beach. A ripple washed over 
his feet, then a curling comber splashed up to his 
knees; but he took another step, unconscious of the 
water now about his hips. 

Suddenly he turned, and was running back up the 
beach toward a shed full of drying copra. He climbed 
one of the thick corner-posts to the roof. The nipa 
thatch gave beneath his weight, and it was chang 
ing ground with fierce plunging stride that he looked 
out to sea. But he was not high enough. The fish- 
corral still made inscrutable the mystery behind, and 
he could see only the smoke, now a sooty black, rising 
in heavy volutes to the green sky. 

He slid down and paced the sand, trying to calm 
himself. But the smoke, ever more voluminous and 
threatening, allowed him no peace. He ran back 
farther up the shore to a coconut palm and tried to 
climb the lithe, slippery trunk. The notches cut by 



COMING OF THE MAESTRA 183 

the monkey-like tuba-men were too far apart; the 
silvery bark was like a greased pole. Twice he went 
up some twenty feet, only to slip, fighting and claw 
ing, clear back to the ground again. He tore off his 
shoes and started up again, cutting his feet, scratch 
ing and biting in a frenzy of impotent effort. He went 
up higher this time, and then the slender, elastic 
trunk began to sway back and forth gracefully, 
dizzying him, making it difficult merely to hold on; 
and with bitterness he realised that the northern mon 
soon was now on, the wind for which he had prayed 
in vain for three days. He could go no higher, and 
still he could not see what was happening behind that 
stolid barrier of bamboo poles out at sea, only the 
black threat of the smoke, now drifting south like a 
great piratical banner, and he slid back to the ground 
full of a terrible unsatiated curiosity. 

He looked down at his feet, torn and bloody, at 
his disordered clothing, and noticed with strange, 
objective curiosity that his whole body was trembling 
as if palsy-stricken. " Oh, shucks," he said, pulling 
himself together ; " I guess it s all right. It s that 
Japanese coal, that darned Japanese coal." He sat 
down upon the sand, trying to keep command over 
himself, but his hands, independently of his will, began 
wringing each other between his knees. And then he 
was up and running along the crazy, sagging wharf, 



184 CAYBIGAN 

his dog barking playfully at his heels. At the end 
he found a banca, a little, narrow dug-out, steadied 
with long outriggers. He sprang into it, cast off the 
rotten piece of rope, seized the only paddle, and 
shoved off with one big heave. He swirled the boat s 
nose around till it pointed at the upper end of the 
corral, then bent down to mad toil, slapping the water 
in vibrating rhythm. And as he strained, his whole 
strength in each stroke, his eyes, round with terrible 
curiosity, followed the smoke as it crawled slowly 
along the corral, blacker, denser, more significant 
every moment. For a while he was in the smooth 
water, in the shelter of the northern cape, but ahead 
he could see the monsoon tearing the liquid surface 
into white shreds. He bore up and was soon in the 
midst of it, the short waves pounding the flanks of 
the boat, the spray spitting spitefully into his eyes. 
He added a new frenzy to his efforts, and then he 
shot past the end of the fish-corral and saw. 

Not a quarter of a mile away, the ship was coming 
toward him, and it was a phantom ship. Of the ma 
terial thing, of the fabric of wood and iron, there 
showed nothing ; but from what was about the height 
of the deck a cataract of smoke poured down the sides 
in opalescent plays of grays and blacks till it met 
the water and rebounded, banking up in rolling, shift 
ing gauze about the ship-nucleus hidden within, while, 



COMING OF THE MAESTRA 185 

above, the monsoon seized the vapour, shaping it with 
twists and whirls into a huge, flaccid, black hand 
suspended like a curse in the sky. A sudden great 
calmness came over the Maestro. Wavering from side 
to side, as if the craft itself were staggering beneath 
the horror of the thing, the whole phantasmagoric 
fabric was coming toward him ; and with slow, de 
liberate stroke he paddled to meet it, his eyes search 
ing for a clew of the conditions, his mind working 
to meet them. The air became vibrant with a low 
growl, split with explosive cracklings, and, in the 
inky smother at the bow, little red tongues flashed 
up and out. He twisted his canoe around till its nose 
pointed with the course of the approaching vessel and 
waited, keyed up to some last possible opportunity 
that must be met swiftly and unerringly. And then 
the steamer passed slowly above him. A cataract of 
smoke poured down upon him, a hot, furnace-breath 
whelmed him with its fevered exhalation ; and he was 
paddling madly beneath the stern, peering into the 
trailing smoke. A more furious puff of the monsoon 
tore the thing to shreds, and then he saw the boat s 
population. They were clustered at the stern, hang 
ing to poop-rail and rope and moulding and anchor 
chain and to each other, like a troop of panic-stricken 
apes at a river crossing, snarling and fighting for 
the safer positions. But on the deck behind them, 



186 CAYBIGAN 

apart in the spiritual retirement of higher nature and 
greater courage, was a slim, blue-garbed form. She 
was standing straight and proudly, her skirts, gath 
ered in her left hand in a familiar movement, drawn 
close about her, away from that defiling moral pud 
dle of humanity. 

" Girlie ! " he shouted, his whole being going out 
to her. 

" Lad ! " came back the answer, clear and true. 
She moved forward a step, her arms stretched grop 
ingly before her. 

" Jump ! Jump ! Jump ! " he commanded. 
"Jump!" 

She took another step and with unhesitating con 
fidence leaped out into the void. 

She disappeared beneath the water; he sent the 
banca ahead with two long strokes, and then she 
rose to the surface alongside. He leaned over and, 
passing both arms below hers, he let her float back 
to the stern of the boat. But before raising her he 
suddenly let go with his right arm, seized the paddle, 
and hit at the water a blow that struck some slimy, 
slippery body. Then with a great effort he raised her 
into the boat and laid her down gently. For a moment 
he did not look at her, but gazed behind, shuddering, 
at a sharp fin cutting the water behind in a circle. 

When he turned to her she was standing, and the 



COMING OF THE MAESTRA 187 

light of their eyes met in a spiritual caress. Slowly 
his arms spread out in an unconscious movement and 
with a little choking cry she threw herself upon him, 
hiding her face on his breast, while his arms closed 
about her. " I knew you would be there," she mur 
mured. He clasped her a little closer, and they stood 
there on their crazy little craft, in the clash of waters, 
wrapped together into one being, the shudder of the 
past uniting them in the same thrill, the ecstasy of 
the present stealing through their veins like bubbling 
wine. A squall had the little boat in its grasp; it 
passed above in the upper layers of air with great 
sharp cries; the boat drifted madly down the coast 
and away from it ; but they knew of no danger, knew 
only that they were in each other s arms, that the 
past was fading away from them like a gone and 
impotent nightmare. Vague and faint, a sound like 
the bursting of a paper bag came to his ears, and 
toward the shore he saw, with eyes that did not under 
stand, incongruous objects falling from the sky a 
twisted smokestack, half of a jolly-boat, a bucket, 
boards, a multitude of smaller shredded bits, and 
aperch on the reef was a shell of a ship, undecked, 
the blackened interior opened to the skies, pouring 
out a cone of black smoke. He held her closer, her 
eyes against his breast, and a palm-lined cape drifted 
past, hiding the thing from view, hiding the last 



188 CAYBIGAN 

vestige of what had happened, and they slid on into 
the illimitable sea, into the future of far horizons. 

After a while she disengaged herself a bit and, toy 
ing with the middle button of her jacket, " You love 
me a whole lot, don t you? " she asked in a question 
that was not a question. 

" Yes, little girl," he answered obediently. 

There was another long silence and the boat drifted 
another two hundred yards. 

" Oh, what a pretty dog ! " she exclaimed, for her 
eyes had been wandering below his arms. " Is it 
yours ? " 

And then he became aware of Jack beneath the 
thwart, whining, with eye apologetic and tail con 
ciliatory, in the warring impulses of friendliness and 
reserve. She stooped down with inviting gesture, and 
the pup, with a little yelp, leaped into her arms. The 
Maestro looked down upon them, a little jealousy in 
his approving smile. But the interruption had sud 
denly made him alive to the situation. 

" Jehoshaphat ! " he exclaimed, looking at the now 
distant shore, down which and away from which they 
were drifting at a rapid rate ; " it s about time to 
pull in ! " 

But this very sane remark was not immediately fol 
lowed by action. The Maestro was looking blankly at 
the bottom of the canoe where lay what once had been 



COMING OF THE MAESTRA 189 

a paddle, but was now only a handle without blade. 
The memory of the manner in which this transforma 
tion had taken place sent his eyes back over the water 
behind, and a frown came on his face. Right and left, 
with a movement regular as that of a sentinel pacing 
his beat, a black fin like a butcher s cleaver was cut 
ting the water. 

" What s the matter, Lad? " asked the young lady, 
still stooping over the dog, and astonished at the 
silence. " Can t you find the oars ? " 

" Well, no ; fact is these boats have no oars." 

" Oh," cried the bride, immediately interested by 
this picturesque fact, and rising to her feet ; " don t 
they have any oars? How do you make them 
go?" 

" Paddle them, usually," answered the groom rue 
fully. 

Her eyes fell upon the lamentable remains of the 
lone paddle, and suddenly the air was athrill with a 
joyous laughing peal. 

"Oh, how jolly!" she exclaimed. "We re ship 
wrecked, aren t we? We ll go away out in the ocean, 
won t we? Isn t this a land of adventure, though!" 

" Well, rather," said the Maestro dryly. 

And, there being nothing else to do, he sat down at 
the bottom of the boat and drew her to his knees. She, 
with feminine altruism, completed the chain by tak- 



190 CAYBIGAN 

ing Jack upon hers, and they drifted on upon the 
flashing sea. " It s just delicious," murmured the 
bride, feeling the warm tropical sun drying her clothes 
upon her. But the groom did not chime in. He was 
thinking. 

There was no immediate danger in the situation, 
but the prospects for the future were hardly to be 
termed " delicious." The monsoon that, probably 
aided by the tide-current, was sweeping them on, had 
not yet kicked up much of a sea and seemed to be 
abating in strength; and the little banca, buoyant 
like a cork upon its outriggers, rode the waves with 
cheerful alacrity. The spray that now and then 
dashed upon them was blood-warm and occasioned 
no discomfort, and their wet clothes were fairly steam 
ing under the rays of the tropical sun. Still they 
were drifting steadily, with the island of Panay some 
thirty miles to their right, Negros to their left, 
its shores, diverging from their course, farther and 
farther away. They might drift on thus between the 
islands without touching either of them for days, till 
out into the China Sea, though the lack of food made 
even that undelightful alternative but a vague one. 
As for the chances of meeting a vessel, they were 
slighter still, only a few lorchas plying between the 
islands at long intervals. And then there was the 
grim diagnosis of the being with the fin, swimming 



COMING OF THE MAESTRA 191 

back and forth, back and forth, behind the boat, 
with ominous patience. 

" If we re shipwrecked, we ought to be doing some 
thing," said the bride suddenly, in the tone of one 
announcing the concluding clause of a syllogism. 

" That s right," acquiesced the Maestro ; " we 
ought to do something." 

" We should empanel a jury," said the bride 
briskly. 

" Empanel a jury," repeated the Maestro, some 
what dazed. 

" Oh," said the bride, blushing, " I mean a jury- 
rudder. We should empanel a jury-rudder." 

" You mean rig up a jury-rudder," exclaimed the 
Maestro, a flashing light of understanding in his 
eyes ; " rig is the more nautical term." 

" Oh, yes," cried the bride delightedly ; " that s it ; 
we must rig up a jury-rudder ! " 

"Well," said the Maestro, after a moment s 
thought; "jury-rudders, you know, are rigged up 
when the real rudder has been carried away. But we 
never had a real rudder ; therefore we can t very well 
have a jury one." 

" Oh," said the bride, disappointed. 

She was silent a moment; then inspiration again 
flamed up. 

" We should signal a ship," she said decidedly. 



192 CAYBIGAN 

" Signal a ship," repeated the Maestro, looking 
about him idiotically. 

" Yes," said the bride ; " put up the flag upside 
down in sign of distress." 

" But we have no flag," said the groom hopelessly. 

" Use my kerchief," said the bride resourcefully. 

" Upside down ? " queried the Maestro. " But there 
is no mast." 

" Put up an oar," she said bravely. 

" But there is no oar." 

" Oh," she said, again discouraged. 

There was another thoughtful silence ; but she was 
not to be overwhelmed. 

" We must get food," she said ; " we must fish." 

" That s right," chimed the Maestro resolutely ; 
" we must fish. Have you any hooks ? " 

" I have pins," she said. 

" I have string," he said. 

He fumbled through his pockets and drew two 
pieces of sorry twine. She turned her back upon him, 
worked mysteriously at her garments, and handed him 
five pins. " Bend them into hooks," she said. 

He kneeled down and, after pricking his fingers 
several times, succeeded in bending two pins against 
the thwart. He passed them through the ends of the 
twine, and they were the possessors of two fishing 
lines. 



COMING OF THE MAESTRA 193 

" You fish in front and I ll fish in back," she said ; 
" that way we won t catch the same fish." 

" No," said the Maestro, looking behind at the 
water where the black fin seemed playfully trying to 
cut its initials ; " you fish at the bow and I ll fish at 
the stern." 

They took their respective positions and cast con 
scientiously. Jack, interested, began to run from one 
to the other, barking. " S-s-s-h," hissed the Maestro ; 
" you ll scare the fish ! " But the warning evidently 
came too late ; the fish refused to bite. 

" I m lonely," finally said a voice at the bow ; 
" come here and talk to me while I fish." 

The Maestro dropped his tackle with suspicious 
alacrity and went forward. The bride continued 
casting with a gradual diminuendo of enthu 
siasm. 

" I don t think this is much fun, do you? " she 
pouted. "Let s stop." 

So they sat down again, she on his knees, Jack in 
her arms. The wind was going down, the sun was less 
scorching, and it was pleasant and quiet. To the left 
the palm-lined shore showed farther and farther 
away ; and they were still drifting in the grip of some 
stubborn current. Suddenly she was laughing, a 
quiet, self-contained peal at some pleasant thought 
hers only. 



194 CAYBIGAN 

" It s dinner time," she said between two musical 
ripples. 

" But you didn t catch any fish," he said. 

She laughed again. " Bring me my grip," she 
ordered. And she pointed to a little dripping satchel, 
to which, with the tenacity of unconsciousness, she 
had clung throughout the crisis, and which now lay, 
unheeded, at the bottom of the boat. 

He handed it to her; but when they went to open 
it, they found it locked, and she had lost the key. 

He brought his knife out of his pocket and opened 
the blade. 

" Oh, my poor grip," she exclaimed in dismay. 
But he slashed at it un sentimentally. 

The interior was only slightly wet. Through the 
gaping hole she took a white lace kerchief and spread 
it upon the centre thwart. Again her hand went into 
the grip and successively she drew a little bottle of 
olives, four figs, three crackers, and a diminutive 
flask of milk. She arranged them daintily upon the 
cloth and then, sitting at the bottom of the boat with 
the table between them, face to face, they gaily dined 
together. 

" Oh, I ve eaten so much," she sighed at last as 
she presented the last fig to Jack, who gulped it 
down trustingly. " I think I should have a nap, don t 
you?" 



COMING OF THE MAESTRA 195 

He took her up in his arms as a child and cradled 
her, but she did not sleep right away. Out in the 
China Sea ahead, the sun was setting in gloomy 
splendour. They watched it till it was only a puddle 
of blood upon the waters ; and then darkness dropped 
like a leaden curtain upon the shimmering sea. From 
all sides the horizon drew near in black walls across 
which the heat-lightning wrote in rageful zigzags. 
The wind had gone down still more and little waves 
slapped up against the sides of the boat like caresses. 
A great loneliness, half sweet, half bitter, descended 
upon them. 

" I m a little afraid, Lad," she murmured. Jack 
began to whine and she took him up ; then, cuddling 
closer, she went asleep. And the little boat drifted on 
in the illimitable darkness, the girl and the dog asleep, 
and the man awake with care and tenderness, while 
behind a phosphorescence streaked back and forth, 
back and forth, in ceaseless vigil. 

Toward midnight he saw a light far to the left, 
fixed as if on shore, and he began shouting over the 
water. This awakened the girl and she joined her 
melodious halloo to his cries, while Jack barked wildly. 
But there came no response, and after a while they 
stopped and went back to their first position. Later, 
a sudden creaking in the silence startled him, and not 
a hundred feet away a lorcha was passing like a 



196 CAYBIGAN 

shadow, all sails set wing-and-wing, the helm lashed, 
with no man on the watch. Again he shouted and the 
voice of the girl and the bark of the dog j oined him ; 
but again there was no response, and slowly, like 
some enchanted fabric, the vessel melted into the dark 
ness ahead. Then again the girl went asleep in his 
arms, the dog upon her knees, while he watched in the 
night and the silence, a great tenderness at his 
heart. 

Later he must have gone asleep, for, when stirred 
by a murmur in his ear and a caress on his brow, he 
looked up into her eyes, the sky above was all green 
and rose with the dawn, and Jack was yelping madly 
at the bow. He started to get up but she detained 
him. 

" No, sir ; you mustn t look," she said ; " I have 
a surprise for you." She placed her hands over his 
eyes and turned his head as he rose to his knees. 
" Now look ! " she exclaimed, suddenly freeing him. 
And his eyes opened upon a line of coconut palms, 
with a golden thread of beach at their feet, not a 
hundred feet away. 

He sprang out into the shallow water and pulled 
the boat up on shore. The sun was rising and they 
lay down on the sand, thawing their limbs, stiffened 
by the heavy night-dew, while Jack ran up and down 
the shore, barking at the rippling waves. It was a 



COMING OF THE MAESTRA 197 

balmy morning; before them stretched the sea, a 
smooth shimmering gray sheet, with vague palpita 
tions of darker hues ; from behind came the scented 
exhalation of the land and the mad barks of the 
dog, precipitated one upon the other, filled the air 
with a wild tumult of joy. A sweet lethargy stole 
through their veins ; the problems of their existence, 
of their whereabouts, of food and shelter, of their re 
turn to his town were things for the future, for a 
far, remote, hazy future ; the present had them in its 
enchantment. 

After a while a little brown boy, a net over his 
shoulder, came singing down the beach. At the sight 
of the two strangers he turned and ran, but the Maes 
tro was up and after him and had him in his strong 
arms before he could reach the shelter of the coco 
nuts. A few words in his own patois and the soft 
voice of the white lady reassured the little savage, 
and he led them along a trail through the trees to 
a small barrio of tuba-gatherers. At the door of one 
of the huts the urchin s mother, an immense fat crone, 
greeted them. They climbed the rickety bamboo lad 
der into the dwelling and accepted the seat of honour, 
a sagging bamboo bench, while with many pitying 
exclamations at their plight, the rotund lady busied 
herself and stirred up a most abominable smoke upon 
her cooking platform. When the repast was ready it 



198 CAYBIGAN 

was seen to consist of two eggs and a banana swim 
ming in suspicious grease, but the visitors were not 
fastidious. Meanwhile the boy outside climbed a tall 
palm, and soon the glade was resounding with the 
whacks of bolos and the crash of coconuts tumbling 
to the ground. They drank the milk and ate the white 
meat and gently refused some atrociously fermented 
tuba pressed ardently to their lips. All this time the 
Maestro was busy with his questions and he found 
that they were on Negros, some thirty miles south of 
their town, with Bago, a large village, where they 
would be able to secure a carabao and cart, only a few 
miles away. 

So, as soon as was compatible with the somewhat 
deliberate Filipino courtesy, they started toward 
Bago, the whole population of the barrio watching 
them disappear through the trees. They soon struck 
the road and swung upon it. The sun, still low, dealt 
gently with the new arrival, and the country was 
beautiful. To their left the flashing-green rice-fields 
sloped toward the sea, and the shimmering waters 
showed here and there through the curtain of palms. 
To their right the high sugar cane, serried and 
plumed, throbbing mysteriously with small animal life, 
walled the view. They were somewhat dilapidated. 
The Maestro was barefooted and hatless, and his once- 
white suit hung lamentably upon his frame ; the girl s 



COMING OF THE MAESTRA 199 

hair had come loose and fell like a golden cataract 
down her back ; but their hearts were purring with in 
effable joy and everything was good. Hand in hand 
they strode along like children, stopping here and 
there to pick a flower and gaze into each other s eyes, 
while Jack raced madly, now in front, now behind 
them. 

After a while a horseman came into view down the 
golden ribbon of road, riding toward them. As he 
neared he showed as a white- j acketed cork-helmeted 
Caucasian upon a diminutive native pony. The Maes 
tro was gazing intently at the approaching figure. 
Suddenly he stopped short, his mouth open in as 
tonishment. 

" Well, I ll be danged," he exclaimed, " if it isn t 
the sky-pilot ! " 

" The sky-pilot? " asked the girl, astonished by this 
strange demonstration. 

" Sure," corroborated the Maestro ; " that s Hus 
ton, the missionary." 

"The missionary!" ejaculated the young lady. 
She turned toward the Maestro ; the Maestro turned 
toward her, and their eyes met. A slight blush rose 
to her cheeks. 

" What luck ! " cried the Maestro fervently. 
" Here, you sit down there," he said, pointing to a 
little mound by the side of the road. And not wait- 



200 CAYBIGAN 

Ing to see if his invitation had been accepted, he 
rushed ahead toward the horseman. 

The little pony was pulled up short, and the girl, 
sitting down with her eyes rigidly ahead, caught 
snatches of an animated conversation. Finally the 
missionary dismounted and the two men came toward 
her. 

"Are you willing?" asked the missionary, as he 
stood, hat off, before her after the introduction. He 
was a young man, clean-shaven, very different from 
her preconceived idea of his kind, and there was a 
little gleam of fun in his blue eyes. 

" Well " she hesitated and looked intently at 

the tip of her foot, peeping beyond the bottom of her 
skirt. A cricket in the cane burst out in a shrill laugh. 
She raised her head and plunged her eyes steadily 
into those of the amused inquisitioner. 

" I m always willing to do what Lad wishes," she 
said, placing her hand upon the Maestro s shoulder. 

They moved beneath the shade of a bamboo thicket, 
and the missionary, standing before the boy and the 
girl, the bridle of his pony passed around his arm, 
read words out of a little book that he had taken 
from his saddlebag. 

But before he had gone very far, the Maestro be 
gan to fumble at his jacket. With some difficulty 
he drew from some inward recess a little buckskin 



COMING OF THE MAESTRA 201 

bag, and when the missionary, hesitating, stopped in 
the middle of a passage, the Maestro nodded his head 
encouragingly. " Go on ; it s all right," he said, and 
he passed something that glittered upon the ring- 
finger of the girl. 

" Whom God hath united let no man part," said 
the missionary. He closed his book, stepped forward, 
and kissed the girl on the forehead. 

" That was well done," said the Maestro. And 
he also kissed the girl, but not on the forehead. 

They stood together for a while, speaking in ab 
sent-minded tones, the missionary of his missions, 
the Maestro of his schools, and then the Maestro and 
the girl started on again toward Bago. But Huston 
did not mount right away. He stood looking at them 
as they walked along the road, side by side, as they 
were to be through life, the dog frisking gleefully at 
their heels. They came to a turn in the highway and 
with a sudden joyous skip they vanished behind the 
cane, hand in hand like children. 

Huston rose slowly into his saddle. " Come on. 
little horse," he said kindly ; " come on ; we re not 
in this." 



IX 

CAYBIGAN 

\VHEN Sergeant Blount s detachment marched 
into San Juan, and in the centre of the plaza grounded 
arms with a crash that ran along the stone flagging 
in vibrating menace, the little pueblo cowered in a 
completeness of fear and abject surrender never 
reached before. Like lizards a few brown beings here 
and there slid out of sight ; and the big blue-shirted 
men, grouped there beneath the white sunlight, found 
themselves as in a vacuum of heat and silence. But 
they had an uneasy sensation of eyes, eyes timorous 
and hostile, shifting and malevolent, from behind 
closed shutters and torn nipa walls peering upon them 
in tremulous distrust. In her stall at the head of the 
street, Eustefania, hundred-year-old, wrinkled, black, 
toothless, was hastily gathering up her store two 
mangoes, a cluster of bananas, a dozen rice cakes, 
five twine-wrapped cheroots into her pafiuelo with 
trembling hands. And Pedro Lasco, crouching upon 
the stone steps of the church, a cigarette between 
his fingers, found his simple and complex soul filled 
with a new and inexplicable tumult. 

202 



CAYBIGAN 203 

For from the man standing there at the head of the 
little troop there radiated Mastery. Pedro, in his 
blind, dark way, tried to analyse the impression, to 
find how this particular being differed from other tall, 
gaunt, brutal Americans that he had met in the past, 
before whom he had quailed physically, but never 
morally ; but immediately he was submerged in that 
feeling he so hated of confusion, blackness, bewilder 
ment which invariably seized him whenever he, man 
of a primitive race, sought to penetrate his own soul, 
obscure with complications beyond his power to read. 
This alone he could tell : that this man, among his 
six-footers, towered by half a head, that his shoul 
ders were broad, that his hair was golden like that 
of the Santa Madre seen once, long ago, in the 
cathedral at Lipa. Later, by patience of eye and 
obstinacy of contemplation he discovered other facts : 
that the campaign hat of the Sergeant was wider- 
brimmed and more rakishly set than those of his fel 
low; that his belt hung down loose along the right 
thigh, to the weight of a huge, silver-mounted six- 
shooter which was not the regulation Colt s ; that, 
when he walked, his feet tinkled with long, rotary 
spurs, and that a red bandana, knotted negligently 
about the neck, flamed up the blue and khaki with 
splendour. 

The men stood at ease in the centre of the plaza. 



204 CAYBIGAN 

The Sergeant took from his breast pocket a cake of 
tobacco, bit off a piece with a slight swagger, then 
looked about him carefully. His eyes met those of 
Pedro. " Alica, caybigan come here, friend ! " he 
shouted with cavalier amicability. 

" Caybigan friend ! " The obscure emotions in 
Pedro s breast surged suddenly into something almost 
definite, something big and soft that was sweet and 
compelled. Slowly he came down the steps in feline 
grace of movement and stood gravely before the big 
man, one foot slightly in front of the other, his right 
hand upon his pliable waist. The Sergeant looked 
down upon him, pulling at his blonde mustache. He 
smiled. The smile passed over Pedro in a shadow of 
indefinite discomfort ; unconsciously he stiffened up, 
a little defiant. 

" You take us to the best house here, caybigan," 
said the Sergeant. 

The smile had gone, and that other sensation, of 
sweetness and good will, again possessed Pedro. 
" Opo," he answered simply. 

And this was the beginning of the bond. Pedro 
showed the Sergeant the house best suited for cuartel, 
the natural spot for a horse-corral, the watering place 
at the river. That night, after he had been dismissed 
and had eaten his rice and fish, Pedro squatted long 
upon the bamboo floor of his little hut, pondering in 



CAYBIGAN 205 

his rudimentary way over the day s events. It was 
a poor hut, small, astonishingly bare; for Pedro s 
wealth was below, beneath the high, post-elevated 
floor. There, laid crosswise upon sustaining poles, 
were his hunting spears, harpoons, and paddles; 
keel-up upon the ground his banca, long, sharp- 
prowed, reptilian, and, hanging from post to post in 
heavy folds, ensilvered with fish-scales, his great drag 
net. But his mind was not upon his riches ; what he 
tried to read within him was dark and shifting ; this 
only he could draw plainly from it: a passionate 
desire to serve that big, golden-haired man with the 
jingling spurs, the red bandana, the rakish sombrero, 
to serve, blindly, unquestioning, like a dog, with 
fatigue of body, and outpouring of sweat, and 
tongue-licking of boots. But even this feeling was not 
clear like a simple flame; athwart it there leaped a 
contradictory shadow. The smile; it was the smile. 
Pedro tried to consider it squarely, but that bewilder 
ment which possessed him always when he attempted 
to read his soul, complicated with complications of 
which he had not the key, seized him with acute dis 
tress ; and with an impatient gesture he brushed away 
the obsession, as he would a fly buzzing importunately 
before his eyes. He lingered long upon the clearer 
impulse, the idea of service, of devotion. " Caybi- 
gan," he murmured softly ; " caybigan " and in the 



206 CAYBIGAN 

balmy silence of the night the drawled syllables hung 
long with lingering sweetness. 

Early the next morning he was about the cuartel, 
and when the Sergeant emerged, splendid in the rising 
sun, he was standing before him, alert of body, grave 
of eyes. " Hello, caybigan," shouted the Sergeant 
gaily; "going to help me, eh?" He pulled at his 
golden moustache; he smiled. A vague discomfort 
possessed Pedro ; unconsciously he drew back one step 
in deer-like movement. But as the smile disappeared 
and the Sergeant stood there, pensive with the day s 
plans, the impulse to serve this being, to toil, suffer 
for him, again swelled within his heart in choking 
longing. They were together all that day. Pedro 
took the Sergeant over the whole pueblo, pointed out 
the natural points of defense, of vulnerability, showed 
him where the outposts should be placed, took him to 
the ford, circled wide about the huddle of huts, dis 
covering all the hidden trails radiating out to the 
plains, the hills, toward the lairs of the Insurrectos. 

" Good-night, caybigan," said the Sergeant as they 
parted that evening. 

" Paalan, caybigan," answered Pedro. 

All day he had longed to slip that word 
" caybigan," and now he stood still a moment, tremu 
lous like a wild thing, noting the effect. But the 
Sergeant seemed to accept. He turned on his heel 



CAYBIGAN 207 

with a gesture of the hand and tinkled into the cuartel, 
while Pedro sped to his hut, his heart in tumult. 
There he squatted long in the anguish of obscure 
analysis. It was the smile again, that almost im 
perceptible twitch of the corners of the mouth which 
the Sergeant had always as he looked down upon 
Pedro. Pedro tried to picture it there, in the dark 
ness; but it eluded him mockingly, vivid before him 
for the time of a spark, then gone before he could 
pounce upon it, seize it in interpretation. It was a 
torturing game. 

That day was only the first passed in a service that 
as time went on, grew increasingly closer, more exact 
ing from the one, more sacrificing from the other. 
It was in the midst of the Bell campaign. Dragging 
the country like a net, there marched ceaselessly large 
bodies of men. Behind them nipa roared ; black volutes 
of smoke rose heavily to the sky, broke against the 
turquoise lid and, rebounding, filled the air with acrid 
haze. At night the horizon glowed as with phos 
phorescence ; great, scorched trees threw their thou 
sand arms in hysterical gesture to a lurid heaven. 
The country took on a bleached, tortured, convulsive 
aspect. The rivers ran pink with the blood of slaugh 
tered cattle. And night and day, along the highways, 
the awed populations passed, women with babies 
astride their hips, upon their heads panuelos knotted 



208 CAYBIGAN 

about a few handfuls of rice; men limp-armed, 
empty-handed; barefooted they pattered along the 
roads in thousands, toward the reconcentration 
camps, noiseless, speechless, stupefied, sullen-eyed 
and half mad. But up in the hills grim Malvar, starv 
ing, still hung on ; though some of his men began to 
trickle down, famished, enfevered, without volition, 
sucked down by the void of desolation made about 
them. 

And the great cry, reiterated incessantly from 
headquarters, athrill in men s mouths, on telegraph 
and telephone, was a ceaseless " Get the guns ; get 
the guns ; get the guns ! " And the soldiery, wild with 
powder, fire, and carnage; that great cry ringing in 
their enfevered brains like a hallucination, " got 
guns " by deeds which, in their rare, cooler moments, 
came back to them as incredible nightmares. It was 
in this work that Sergeant Blount, athirst for praise 
and splendour of fame, threw himself with his fero 
cious energy and that Pedro proved the invaluable 
helpmate. He had been a great hunter; he could 
track like an Apache ; and to this he united a singular 
faculty for obtaining information among his people. 
To the two caybigans the slightest starting point 
sufficed a rumour, for instance, that a man with a 
gun had passed a certain place at a certain time. 
Instantly they had saddled and were off, and from the 



CAYBIGAN 209 

spot Pedro trailed like a hound, leaping from sign to 
sign. Often the trail led into the bosom of the hills 
and regretfully they had to stop before the probabil 
ity of disappearing into an insurrecto stronghold. 
But often also the trail, circling, doubled back 
to one of the few pueblos, such as San Juan, 
kept here and there like oases in the desert of desola 
tion, as baits, as constant, hypnotising promise of 
ease, of rest, of plenty to the outlaws starving, 
desperate, in the hills. And then Pedro s more subtle 
faculty came to the fore. He questioned, threatened, 
cajoled, bluffed, pleaded, leaped from induction to 
induction, till he had settled upon the man, the treach 
erous " amigo " in league with the enemy. Sometimes 
even there Pedro s persuasive powers were enough; 
more often Blount then began to act and there were 
scenes better left undescribed. So, little by little, the 
cuartel filled with a strange captured arsenal, and 
Blount s soul with satisfaction. Sometimes it was a 
Mauser, oiled, polished, pretty as a toy; more often 
a rusty Remington or German needle-gun; but also 
there were pathetic makeshifts a piece of water- 
pipe tied to a rough-hewn block of wood, loaded by 
the muzzle and set off by the hot butt of a cigarette. 
So Pedro rode, slept, ate, toiled with the Sergeant, 
and by the whole pueblo, soldier and native, he was 
called " Caybigan " ; by all except Eustef ania, 



210 CAYBIGAN 

crouching day after day like a mahogany sculpture 
upon the latticed floor of her little tienda. The old 
woman was jealous. One day when the soldiers, in 
wild hilarity, had seized upon her basket of embryo 
ducks cooked in the shell and were hurling them at 
each others heads, Blount had interfered. And now, 
whenever he passed, splendid, along the street, the old 
woman, like a statue coming to life, descended trem 
ulously from her pedestal and, running in front of 
him, bowed low and tried to kiss his hand. 

And yet in this service, in this renunciation, Pedro 
did not find the complete satisfaction that he craved. 
A heavy uneasiness was with him always, in rest or 
work, in peace or peril; a dull irritation, an obscure 
anguish that he could not fathom, but which 
each day became more oppressive, more insist 
ent. It was the smile of his caybigan. At night he 
faced the distress of mental analysis, hour after hour, 
contemplating fixedly that smile. In its presence a 
strange weakness, a subtle debility, possessed him; 
to resist this he dwelt upon his past achievements. He 
had been a great hunter of hill and water. At the 
deer runs he was always leading ginete, galloped 
madly after the tremulous game, hour after hour, 
over mountain, down precipice, till he had worn it 
down, rode flank to flank with it and, seizing the 
moment, plunged his long lance into the throbbing 



CAYBIGAN 

spot behind the shoulder. And once when a caiman 
had snatched his goat off the bank of the river, he had 
plunged into the black pool; seeking the saurian 
into the oozy depths where sullenly it lay like a rock 
upon its prey, he had twined about it his big net 
and, springing back to the surface, with his friends 
had triumphantly dragged it out to earth. Loud had 
been sung his praises during the fiesta that followed, 
while the viscous thief, corralled with bamboo poles, 
both eyes gouged out, died slowly beneath the sun, 
upon the baking strand. Yes, he was a big man ; even 
his caybigan, with hair of gold and tinkling spurs, 
could he have done better? But before the smile, 
malign there in the dark, all this, all these deeds, 
this valour seemed bleached of colour and meaning. 
A heavy discouragement weighed upon him. 

One night, at last, he came to a conclusion. And it 
expressed itself in one word, short and electric. 

" Patay ! " he said ; " patay kill ! " 

He would kill the smile. 

He climbed down the bamboo ladder and, beneath 
the floor, went directly to the big net, hanging from 
post to post. From one of the flaccid folds he drew 
an object. In three leaps he was up again, and in 
the faint light of his little tin lamp, for a while he 
acted like a child with a doll. He crouched down, 
the thing upon his knee, spoke to it with tender ac- 



CAYBIGAN 

cent, stroked it with long, gentle caress. But it was 
not a doll; it was a gun, a dainty Mauser carbine. 
It was oiled and polished, and beautiful, but he spent 
two hours over it, cleaning, oiling, snapping the 
delicate machinery. Then, with a sigh of satisfaction, 
he went down again and laid the precious toy among 
the secretive folds of the net. 

The following evening, as in the moonlight the 
Sergeant rode out to inspect the outposts, a shot 
rang near and a bullet wailed overhead. Pedro, 
through the bush screening him, saw the great horse 
shy and rear, saw the Sergeant s graceful, almost 
lazy recover. Then man and beast stood still, black, 
statuesque in the sheen of moon, the horse with ears 
cocked forward, trembling beneath the compelling 
reining hand, the man erect and proud on the high- 
pommelled saddle. There was a silence long as in 
finity. The horse champed resoundingly at the heavy 
Mexican bit. Pedro panted. Slowly the Sergeant 
turned his head, from the thicket to the right, to the 
golden ribbon of road ahead, then smoothly, in im 
perceptible movement, to the left. His eyes were upon 
Pedro; they seemed to pierce the screen of brush to 
halt penetratingly upon the assassin. And upon the 
face, clear in the moonlight, appeared the smile. 

A sense of immense helplessness whelmed Pedro ; 
he crouched lower; his hands, flaccid, dropped their 



CAYBIGAN 213 

hold upon the gun which sank softly in the high 
cogon. There was a long, throbbing silence. Then 
the tinkle of spur rang out in silvery note. With an 
elastic bound the horse leaped forward, immediately 
to be checked by the powerful guiding hand ; and 
slowly they moved down the moonlit road, horse and 
man, huge, black, granite-hewn unconquerable. 

But Pedro, sneaking back, low behind the thicket, 
pressed both hands to his breast as if to hold there the 
germ of an idea he felt within; and with feverish 
haste hiding his gun, he crouched down at his ac 
customed place to face it. It was a dolorous process. 
The thing sparked, flamed, wavered, went out com 
pletely, sparked anew. He contemplated it fixedly, 
encouraged it, fanned it ; and finally for a moment it 
blazed, vivid, calm, unforgettable. 

" Alipusta ! " he shouted triumphantly ; " alipusta 
contempt ! " " Alipusta," he repeated slowly, con 
templatively, the triumph of discovery sinking into 
the ashes of realisation. Yes, that was it ; it was con 
tempt, that smile, the smile of his caybigan; con 
tempt, thorough, tranquil, absolute. 



During the following days, Pedro worked with 
renewed frenzy. There was some rumour of the pres 
ence of an Insurrecto camp near the pueblo some- 



CAYBIGAN 

where. Pedro went about the taos, cajoled, threat 
ened, flattered, begged, cross-questioned, menaced 
in the full exercise of his singular gift, progressing 
from rumour to probability, from probability to cer 
tainty, and then he searched the country like a hound, 
along subterranean trails, springing from trace to 
trace, hour after hour closer. But all the time he 
shot sly side glances at his big caybigan, in ambush 
for the smile, the smile of contempt which, as he 
worked more and more feverishly, nearer and nearer 
success, came to the Sergeant s lips with growing 
frequency, with less and less restraint, with increasing 
insolence. And at his heart a desire gnawed, a black, 
obscure desire for something, something he could 
not tell what something he could not determine, but 
which now was indispensable to him, without which he 
could not live; something that tasted like water 
to his thirst, but was not water. He wished no more 
to kill; the new longing overwhelmed the other more 
primitive impulse. It was something bigger, grander, 
more magnificent ; it tore at his bowels, a want, vague, 
unnamable, but of corrosive violence. On the third 
day they located the camp ; travelling sinuously along 
a trace of trail they saw at last, through the bamboo 
thicket, the pointed roof of the Insurrecto cuartel 
a nipa hut in the centre of a clearing. They stopped 
a moment in consultation ; then Pedro slid smoothly 



CAYBIGAN 215 

through the cogon toward the camp. Half-an-hour 
later he was back, sprang up suddenly as from the 
earth at the feet of the Sergeant. 

" Tacbo gone," he said. 

The Sergeant was accustomed to such disappoint 
ments. Tilting back his wide-brimmed sombrero in 
philosophical gesture, he followed Pedro toward the 
clearing. But as they broke out of the thicket he 
gripped his guide s arm with iron fingers and with 
a bound threw himself back into cover. For before 
the hut human figures sprawled in feigned sleep, their 
guns stacked behind them, and at the windows 
shadowy forms lurked. " What the devil " he be 
gan fiercely. 

" Tacbo," reiterated Pedro ; " manica dolls," he 
added shortly. 

The Sergeant understood, and with a swaggering 
clink of spurs stepped out again. It was as Pedro 
had said. The recumbent figures upon the ground 
were dummies of grass and cloth; the stacked guns 
were rough wooden counterfeits. They climbed the 
bamboo ladder into the house. More of the grotesque 
shapes were there, legs divergent and back-jointed; 
two leaned at the window, their hollow bellies bent 
at right angles over the sill, in solemn, peering at 
titudes. In the breeze their loose white camisas moved 
softly in undulating shivers; their big straw hats 



216 CAYBIGAN 

flapped like wings of bats. Hanging from the central 
rafter was a lamp, smouldering in yellow spark 
and sooty smoke; and against the harsh down 
pour of clear sunlight outside this little, soiled 
flame gave to the whole crew of contorted bodies 
an aspect of death, of carnage, of decay. The Ser 
geant caught himself sniffing the air. " Let s get out 
of this," he said. 

They climbed down the rude stairs again, and in 
stinct, more than Pedro s guidance, took the Sergeant 
to the right, some fifty yards into the bush and there 
it was, the trench : parallel to the trail, broad, deep, 
and all littered with signs of recent occupancy. 

The Sergeant stood still, looking at the hut, at the 
trench, at the trail. He twirled his moustache pen 
sively ; muttered exclamations came to his lips. 

It was a pretty arrangement. A detachment, com 
ing along the trail behind the guides and bursting 
out into this clearing, with its lure of men recumbent 
upon the ground, of stacked arms, of vague forms 
at the windows, shadowed forth by the lamplight be 
hind, would immediately charge in attempted sur 
prise. Then from the brush to the right, the trench s 
enfilading murder it was pretty indeed. 

Again the Sergeant took in all the details, his head 
turning from point to point, from the hut to the trail, 
from the trail to the trench, then back again, assur- 



CAYBIGAN 217 

ing himself of the perfection of the plan. And Pedro 
looked at the Sergeant; as if hypnotised he stepped 
closer, in long, feline strides, coming suddenly at 
far intervals, his whole lithe body a-quiver. For there, 
in the eyes of the Sergeant, the caybigan, growing 
stronger, clearer, more certain every moment, there 
it shone, his Desire, the form and shape at last of his 
obscure torturing desire. It was that that which 
shone in the eyes of the Sergeant as he contemplated 
the perfection of the plot it was that he longed for, 
thirsted for, that which he must have himself, abso 
lutely, to guard and treasure and cherish. It was 
there, the torturing want of his entrails, there, but 
not his, not his yet. 

Back in his hut that night, after hours of obscure 
battling, he named it at last. " Magtaca," he said, 
with heavy finality ; " magtaca admiration." 

And then instantly he leaped to the next step. 

66 For the enemy, magtaca ; for the caybigan, ali- 
pusta." 

He hissed out the last word like an expectoration. 

Yes, that was it : for the enemy, admiration ; for 
him, the friend, the servitor, the caybigan, contempt. 

Pedro slid down to the big net below. And long in 
the dim light of his little lamp he oiled and cleaned 
and polished and caressed. 



218 CAYBIGAN 

in 

A mysterious enemy began to vex the little detach 
ment of San Juan with the puerile attacks. 

Every night a Mauser bullet came wailing down 
the Lipa road and passed over the outpost with a re 
sounding hiss. The first time this occurred, the lone 
sentinel, returning the fire, doubled back prudently 
upon the guard rushing out to his support. Tense in 
vigilance the little troops waited for the attack. But 
it did not come. At regular intervals a lone bullet 
screeched above their heads, and that was all. Finally 
they charged along the highway. A few more de 
tached shots met them ; then there was silence. 

The following night the same thing took place 
the wail of the lone bullet, the alarm, the pursuit 
and nothing. 

A new plan was tried. Four men were placed at 
the outpost with saddled horses within reach. At the 
humming approach of the first shot they leaped into 
their saddles and thundered down the highway; it 
stretched before them, moon-golden between the 
black thickets, and deserted. Returning they scouted 
the brush, the big horses crashing down the thick 
vegetation. But there was nothing. 

A corps of native beaters was added the next night. 
They searched the bush thoroughly on both sides of 



CAYBIGAN 219 

the road. The shrill katydids dropped into silence; 
lizards, snakes, iguanas, loathsome beasts of ob 
scurity rustled off in panic. But that was all. 

Caybigan was called to the rescue. For two days 
he worked upon the inhabitants of the pueblo. But for 
once his wonderful faculty failed him; he found no 
trace of the secret enemy. 

An ambush was prepared. Ten men at early dawn 
lay down in the bush near the spot from which it was 
calculated the bullets came. All day they lay there, 
low, without a whisper, without a movement. But 
when night came, it was the other outpost, at the op 
posite extremity of the pueblo, which was attacked. 

After this last effort the thing was accepted as 
routine. There was a childishness, a puerility about 
it that made the men smile. They grew rather to like 
this little excitement, breaking the monotony of long 
vigils. 

But gradually the affair grew more interesting. 
The man was learning to shoot. Each night the 
leaden missile screeched a little lower, a little closer. 
Finally, one night, the guard, when relieved, was 
found walking his post with his left arm limp along 
his side, neatly punctured by one of the mysterious 
bullets. 

On the same morning, Blount, walking along the 
main street, was stopped by old Eustefania. 



220 CAYBIGAN 

" Mi capitan," she said, cringing before him, " do 
you wish to know who shoots your soldiers at night? " 

"Who?" asked the Sergeant curtly. 

" Caybigan," she said. 

From the depths of their caves her eyes glowed at 
him, fixed, violent. 

And to the Sergeant the answer came as the revela 
tion of something long and obscurely felt. Caybi- 
gan s absence from the night alarms, his singular 
failure to track down the sharpshooter, the ridicu 
lous fiasco of the attempted ambuscade a thousand 
and one little links suddenly clinked shut at the word 
in a chain of evidence, of certainty. 

The Sergeant turned sharp on his heel; his spurs 
rang on the stone flagging. In the centre of the 
plaza Caybigan, in his graceful, elastic pose, half- 
confident, half -wild, was bandying with three of the 
blue-shirted soldiers. Blount made straight for the 
group. When near he began to run, his face con 
vulsed with the rage, half real, half assumed, which 
experience had taught him invaluable for such mo 
ments. With a tiger leap he bore upon Pedro, 
clutched his throat with his great hands, and threw 
him to the ground. 

Pedro went down without a quiver of resistance, 
and he lay there a white figure in the gray dust, his 
arms thrown out in a cross-like attitude of infinite 



CAYBIGAN 

surrender. His brown eyes looked up into the cold 
green light of the- Sergeant s with golden luminosity ; 
he smiled gently. " And this from my caybigan," he 
said. 

" None of your Julius Csesar on me," snarled the 
Sergeant, who had a vague acquaintance with the 
classics. " Your gun ; where is it ? " 

" I have no gun, caybigan." 

The Sergeant drew his revolver, and brutally he 
jammed the handle into the mouth of the prostrate 
man with a sharp twist that sent the pointed stock up 
against the palate, jerking the lower jaw down in 
distorted gap. " Water," he said shortly. 

One of the men with whom Pedro had been talking 
brought a hollow bamboo full of water. Holding it 
above the prone figure he tilted it carefully. A silvery 
cascade poured down; it struck the distended nos 
trils in diamond rebound, streamed into the cavities 
at each side of the clamped revolver. Immediately 
Pedro was clutched by an agonising sensation of 
drowning. He gasped, gurgled; his knees, as if 
automatically, snapped up to his chin. And the water 
came down, calmly, steadily, in pretty silver flow, 
while he drowned, drowned, drowned. 

" Wait a moment," said the Sergeant. The man 
with the tube gave it a slight tilt, the flow ceased. 
Slowly Pedro emerged from the torturing sensa- 



222 CAYBIGAN 

tion; an immense weakness dissolved his bones; he 
trembled. 

" Your gun," snarled the Sergeant, shaking him 
ragefully. 

But Pedro, limp, eyes closed, waited for a little 
strength. 

" Your gun," thundered the Sergeant. 

And Pedro opened his eyes with a long sigh, like 
a very sleepy child. " I have no gun, caybigan," he 
said, very gently, very wearily. 

They began again. The water slid down in silver 
prettiness, splashed upon the face in diamond drops ; 
and Pedro drowned. And each time when they 
stopped, and he had regained strength, he smiled 
gently at his caybigan and said, " I have no gun, 
caybigan." 

After a while fury rose like a red foam into the 
brains of these men, mad with ceaseless, ineffectual 
carnage, with bitter, unavailing toil, with the sense 
of their impotence in this eternal war against a 
vacuum. They threw themselves upon that limp, re 
sistless body, shell of the impalpable soul uncon- 
quered within. They beat and kicked and choked. 

But Pedro, very weak, very tired, very broken, still 
smiled gently and said, " I have no gun, caybigan." 

Then from this orgy of violence Blount felt himself 
slowly emerge, white of face, cold in sweat, stagger- 



CAYBIGAN 

ing as if drunk. He snapped up Pedro into his arms 
and laid him in the shade of a giant mango growing 
out of the ruins of a crumbled wall near by. An im 
mense discouragement, a poignant disgust made him 
tremble as with bodily weariness. Down on one knee 
he bent over Pedro. Pedro felt the warm breath like 
a caress on his ear. " Caybigan," implored the 
Sergeant ; " caybigan, amigo, friend, tell us, go on, 
tell us where you keep that gun, tell it to me, for me, 
for my sake." 

Pedro opened his eyes, and they smiled, golden, 
at the Sergeant. 

" I have " he began. 

" No, not that, not that," cried the Sergeant, in 
frenzied fear of hearing again that answer which 
maddened him, blurred his brain with red haze. " Tell 
me, come, tell me ; whisper it, low, right there, in my 
ear; come, caybigan." 

" If I tell you, then will we be friends ? " asked 
Pedro wistfully. 

" Caybigan," said the Sergeant, " we have worked 
together, eaten together, hunted together. We are 
friends. I don t want to hurt you, sure I don t. Tell 
me, tell me and I ll love you like a son like a little, 
foolish son," he added with sudden access of 
tenderness. 

"Well," began Pedro; "the gun, it is " 



CAYBIGAN 

But his eyes, fixed upon the Sergeant, froze sud 
denly as if before an apparition. The Sergeant was 
smiling, smiling the smile of yore, the unconscious 
smile of contempt, fatal, invincible. 

" Go on ; go on ! " whispered the Sergeant breath 
lessly. 

" I have no gun, caybigan," said Pedro monot 
onously. 

The Sergeant sprang to his feet, livid. " Come on, 
fellows ! " he shouted ; " we ll hang him ! " 

They got a rope, noosed it about Pedro s neck, 
threw the loose end over a projecting branch of the 
mango and, standing him upon a box, secured it. 

In that position they left him for five minutes, to 
let Fear seep into his stubborn heart. Every minute, 
in cold, tense accents, the Sergeant asked, " Where is 
the gun?" 

Pedro did not answer. He stood there, very still, 
calling to himself all the strength left in his miser 
able racked body, composing himself as for some 
great and splendid sacrament. Then, as for the fifth 
time the question was asked, his right arm shot up 
towards the mountains, dark in the distance. 

" Malvar is over there with ten thousand men," he 
shouted with high, clear voice. " Viva Malvar ; the 
Americans are sons of curs ! " 

Somebody kicked the box. 



CAYBIGAN 225 

But as, the whole earth lurching beneath him, he 
plunged into the Infinite abyss, he took with him a 
wild, tumultuous, and exquisite joy. For at his last 
words of defiance, upon the face of his golden- 
haired caybigan he had seen fluttering uncertain at 
first like the heralding colours of the dawn, then 
glowing clear, certain, resplendent the expression 
he had caught at the lone cuartel in the bosque, the 
look of esteem, of admiration, full, unreserved, com 
plete, for which he had thirsted so agonizingly, and 
which now at last had come to him, his beyond the 
power of Man to take away, at the paltry price of 
treachery and torture and death. 



THE CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO 

1 HIS is to explain how young Theodore Pinney, 
after his meteoric debut in the P. I. constabulary 
consisting in nothing less than the capture of Papa 
Gato, fierce bandelero, who for years had terrorised 
the region of the Taal squatted into a fat civilian 
job and forsook all dreams of glory. And it s not at 
all about young Pinney, but mostly about his mother, 
the widow. 

" The widow ;" by that short, somewhat ominous 
and not too respectful cognomen she was known by all 
the bureau the educational, of course from super 
intendent to lowest clerk; and throughout the archi 
pelago by men departmental and non-departmental. 
This name, based on fact, like most things based 
on fact, was a lying thing. Close your eyes 
and say " widow " ; the vision is of something subtle, 
arch and tantalising lustrous eyes, comely form 
(somewhat pudgy), kittenish ways. But she was 
long and lean and angular; her bosom was arid 
and her tongue triple- forked. "Old-maid" would 

226 



CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO 227 

have expressed her infinitely better; but there was 
the fact, the stubborn fact, which manifested itself 
with slight provocation by a grim tightening of 
the thin lips, and the phrase proverbial now 
throughout the P. I. s " Mr. Pinney, well, the less 
said about him the better. He was a handsome man, 
but he was a wicked man " the " handsome " being 
pronounced with a rising inflection, and the antithetic 
adjective with a drop into tenebrous basso-prof undo. 

Of Pinney pere this is all we ever knew, although in 
departmental circles he was a subject fertile of de 
licious speculation. That to be wicked he had had 
ample temptation, knowing the widow, we cheerfully 
granted; but what chance he ever had had to suc 
cumb, knowing the widow, we could not imagine. Of 
Pinney fils we knew still less, nothing at all, in fact, 
what little there was being the property of the postal 
authorities and consisting of records of money orders 
sent monthly by the widow to a well known western 
college town. But of the widow herself, good Lord, 
we knew only too much. 

For she was a terror and a pest. From the day she 
placed her number tens upon Philippine soil the 
islands knew no peace. The educational department 
became a nightmare, and clamour filled all the others. 
She had a passion for " little trips " and her will 
was adamant and her tongue a visitation. They all 



228 CAYBIGAN 

knew her. Her appearance at the Civil Hospital her 
alded the disappearance of the resident chief. " Give 
her what she wants, anything she wants," he yelled 
at his clerk, as he exited. And when she sallied out 
for fresh conquest she held under her arm a certificate 
of ill-health. At the educational bureau the superin 
tendent saw her coming. Out he sprang, through door 
or window. " Give her what she wants," his parting 
wail floated to the clerk. And so, with a glance at 
the medical certificate, and a few timid questions as a 
matter of form, he made out Document No. II sick- 
leave on full pay. A few minutes later the major of 
the army transport service found the outer world 
urgently calling, and as he dodged the widow on the 
stairway, " My clerk, madam, has orders to give you 
what you wish," he murmured, tense with an immense 
hurry. And the clerk provided ; and a few days later 
the widow wandered aboard some inter-island trans 
port, made law to the quartermaster, terrorised the 
steward, possessed herself of the best cabin, anchored 
her chair in the most desirable deck space and off 
she sailed on one of her adorable little voyages. 
From Aparri to Bohol, through Vigan, Ilo-Ilo, Cebu, 
Dumaguete, and Zamboangua, she was known, her 
clamour had resounded, for transportation, for com 
missary privileges, for bull-carts, cargadores, and 
military escorts. 



CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO 229 

One day, though, she decided to settle down. 

She caught the superintendent at his desk and 
asked him for a provincial post. The superintendent 
saw his main chance staring him in the face. He was 
an intelligent and discreet man, so he did not decide 
hastily. For a whole afternoon he pored diligently 
over a map of the archipelago. Finally he settled on 
Taal, in the volcanic region of Luzon. It was just 
at the end of the dry season; he calculated that she 
could just get there. Then the rains would begin 
and the roads were without bottom. Besides, there 
was Papa Gato ambuscaded somewhere upon the 
flanks of the great volcano surmounting the pueblo. 
Many things can happen in six months. The superin 
tendent was not an imaginative man ; but that day 
he certainly smiled to visions. 

So, with a last array of reclamas transporta 
tion, carts, provisions, military escorts the widow, 
her worldly goods upon a carabao-drawn carro, her 
self in a shaky quilesa, set out toward her Palestine. 
And the rains began and shut her off behind their 
impenetrable curtain. 

From her isolation, after a while, news began to 
filter, vague, insufficient, broken, like the irritating 
snatches of a telegraph line out of order; first the 
regular official reports, secondly popular rumour. 
She had evidently taken hold. The monthly reports 



230 CAYBIGAN 

showed the school attendance of Taal rising by leaps 
and bounds to astonishing totals. Rumour, however, 
corrected in some degree the superintendent s satis 
faction. It appeared that this remarkable increase 
was largely due to her personal herding of batas with 
the aid of a big baston. Once, it seemed, she made a 
regrettable slip, took one of the leading citizens 
of the pueblo for a little boy, and, he proving recalci 
trant, cracked his crown with her persuader ere she 
had discovered her mistake. This caused some trouble 
to the central office, but, as the superintendent re 
marked to the Secretary of Education, " One cannot 
make omelettes without breaking eggs, and he (the 
leading citizen, evidently) was a bad one, anyway." 
Pompously couched recriminations, also, came from 
the Taal municipality. It was claimed that she had 
taken upon herself the collection of taxes, that she 
levied thereon five per cent, for school purposes, that 
she had deposed the treasurer and had appointed one 
of her own, who happened to be her muchacho, so that 
the books and funds were securely locked up in her 
stout camphor-wood chest. But as the town officials 
were suspected of sundry peculations, the new system 
was regarded as somewhat of an improvement. Be 
sides, at that time she was absolutely invaluable with 
a contribution to The Philippine Teacher (the super 
intendent s special hobby) upon the " Model Nipa 



CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO 231 

Home," an article embellished with diagrams and ele 
vations and cross-sections. A few weeks later, it is 
true, there came from Mr. Rued, a constabulary sec 
ond-class inspector, stationed in Taal, a most virulent 
protest about the burning of some two hundred shacks 
that happened to conform only too distantly with the 
ideal " Model Nipa Home." Mr. Rued, being a mild 
man, thought this method of civic improvement too 
strenuous. With this, his chief in Manila thoroughly 
agreed, and, leaving him full discretion as to meth 
ods, ordered him to take all necessary measures 
which command, mysteriously enough, remained for 
ever without answer. 

It was just about this time that Papa Gato, living 
in idyllic ease in his impenetrable bosques up the sides 
of the Taal, began to feel that vague but imperious 
self -dissatisfaction which is the peculiar appanage 
of us unfortunate humans the inward command to 
work. The Mexican pesos of his last raid were be 
coming deplorably few, his store of palay was low, 
and the contributions of the villagers spoke of fail 
ing memories. It was time for another raid. 

But this time, with his more earthy preoccupa 
tions there mingled blue-hazed dreams. Gato, in spite 
of a real practical genius, often proven by the in 
genuity of his methods of extracting from recalci 
trants information as to the whereabouts of their hid- 



CAYBIGAN 

den wealth, Papa Gato was sentimental. Even before 
the revolution, whose impassioned call had led him 
into a mode of life from which he had never been able 
to free himself, even when a humble cochero in Ma 
nila, he had been a dreamer. And now, Pope spiritu 
ally this for the benefit of the rural population, but 
treated by his own camp followers with large, Ameri 
can-imported winks king administratively, Marescal 
de Campo militarily, this deplorable trait was still 
with him. The life of an outlaw, even in the Philip 
pines, has its disadvantages. Gate s particular disad 
vantage, which he now set himself to nullify, was 
this : he had never seen an American woman. He had 
never seen one of those golden-haired maestras, which 
the American nation (with that inconsistency which 
prompts them to shoot alternately and with equal 
firmness, precision, and dispatch lead and book 
learning into his people) sends to far pueblos like 
angelic visitations. But there was one in Taal. He 
had heard that she was wonderful (it speaks elo 
quently of his sentimentalism that he had never sought 
to find out in what she was wonderful ; his imagination 
immediately made her so in the mode that he would 
have her so stately, golden-haired and seraphic). 
So it was that Taal was chosen as the field of his 
next exploit. 

With his usual courteous foresight, he sent into 



CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO 233 

the town an announcement of his intention to capture 
the treasury and the maestra. This was his regular 
mode of procedure, and not so fatuous as it may ap 
pear. It had the double effect of warning his friends 
he had many in all places and of paralysing his 
enemies. This time, however, he was surprised with 
an official answer from the municipal council, sitting 
in executive session. This answer was three varas 
long and redundant with rhetoric ; but reduced to 
plain and precise English it might well be set down 
thus: 

" For God s sake, take her away, and you can have 
the money, too." 

This alacrity seemed to him highly suspicious, so, 
with strategic cunning, he decided to hold camp with 
his main force, and to send off his brigadier-general, 
Gomez, with a force of two lieutenant-generals, five 
colonels, ten majors, twenty captains, and a few lieu 
tenants for the more facile work in Taal. 

ii 

Thus it was that, soon after, the good people of 
Taal were aroused at sun-up by a ragged burst of 
musketry, a hullaballoo of yells and beating tom 
toms, and the crackling of burning nipa. They were 
prepared for such a contingency, however ; and when, 
after this little preliminary demonstration, Gomez s 



CAYBIGAN 

disreputables burst along the main street, they met a 
reception that halted them in uneasy distrust. 

For out of all the houses, humble balay or grand 
casa, the populace was pouring holiday-decked, faces 
shining with welcome man, woman, and child, tao 
and distinguido, all ranks, all sexes, all ages. White 
linen, shimmering jusis, diaphanous pinas united in 
fiesta colouring. Peace and rejoicing, a mild, ecstatic 
expectation, reigned upon all the faces ; the ninos and 
nifias especially were full of a goatlike hilarity and 
tumbled on the green amid the tulisanes, upsetting 
majors and colonels indiscriminately. And could it 
be was he blind ? no, it was true, indubitably true ; 
before Gomez s eyes, in front of the Casa Popular 
and spanning the main street, a graceful bamboo 
arch of triumph rose against the pink dawn. And 
across the top, in six-foot letters of bejuca, was the 
following inscription: 

To THE LIBERATOR OF THE PUEBLO THE INHAB 
ITANTS OF GRATEFUL TAAL. 

But out of the Casa Popular the municipal band 
was emerging in joyful blare, and Gomez had just 
time to compose himself into the pose of his new role 
before he was greeted by the presidente, dressed in 
church-day black, his head covered with the derby of 



CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO 235 

ceremony. After a short exchange of courtesies, the 
band wheeled, the presidente placed himself at its 
head, Gomez at the head of his own troops, and presi 
dente, band, tulisanes, and populace started down the 
street. " To the maestra ! " shouted the presidente, 
with a heroic gesture. " To the maestra ! " echoed 
Gomez. " To the maestra ! " roared the tulisanes. 
" To the maestra ! " yelled the populace, squeaked 
the women, piped the ninos and ninas. And pell-mell 
they flowed beneath the arch. 

Before the original Model Nipa Home the band 
halted and with an ominous snort came to silence. 
A hush fell over the assembled multitude. One of the 
shutters of the Model Home slid back ; a lean, yellow 
arm, at the end of which dangled a steaming coffee 
pot, pushed out of the opening. Suddenly the coffee 
pot parabolaed through the air and landed upon the 
presidente s ceremonial derby. 

" Caramba ! " roared that official, suffocated and 
scalded; and he beat a hasty retreat into the hoi- 
polloi. The mysterious arm mysteriously disap 
peared. Forming a cordon of lieutenants about the 
Model Home, Gomez and three of his colonels mounted 
the stairs and beat down the light bamboo door. 

But behind the door stood the formidable widow. 
Long and gaunt, in her morning wrapper, her be- 
frilled nightcap askew upon her head, her horn 



236 CAYBIGAN 

spectacles trembling with indignation at the end of 
her aquiline nose, she confronted them, a figure of 
righteous fury. Behind her was a well-constructed 
pyramid of utensils, from which she drew with 
promptness and discernment. In a jiffy the nearest 
colonel was helmeted down to the chin with a big iron 
kettle, the second was sneezing to death under a 
stream of tabasco sauce, while Gomez himself was 
retreating beneath the tom-tom din of an empty coal- 
oil can, plied with vigorous repetition upon his 
cranium. 

Right here, however, the widow was led off into a 
common enough strategic mistake. Instead of turn 
ing her victorious energy upon the vacillating troop 
outside, she allowed herself to be hypnotised by the 
already thoroughly conquered. At the head of the 
stairs, pirouetting madly and roaring like a bull, was 
the be-kettled colonel, and upon him she turned her 
batteries. It was a wonderful exhibition. Things cul 
inary flew through the air three saucepans, a roll 
ing-pin, a grill, a teapot, a pile of tin plates. Then 
came canned goods: tomatoes, pears, peaches; beef, 
roast and corned; mutton, chicken, hare, pork, peas, 
maize, string beans; jellies: apple, currant, lemon, 
cherry; jams: apricot, peach, grape, plum, lychee. 
Two hams and a small sack of flour came as an inter 
regnum. Blind, deaf, helpless, the poor colonel 



CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO 237 

swayed, doubled up, whirred, thrashed his arms be 
neath the avalanche. Resonant whang-angs of his 
headgear announced particularly brilliant shots ; dull 
thuds more vital ones. At last, with a parting shower 
of little potted cheeses, the widow s ammunition ran 
out. She folded her arms, drew herself up to her full 
height, and, her eyes shining humorously beneath her 
shaggy brows, " Well, boys," she asked, " what is it 
you want? " 

Gomez was coming up the stairs again, under safe 
escort. 

" We are ladrones, madam," he explained, politely. 

" We want we want " he stammered, uneasy, 

before that great dominating figure. " We want 

ah the dinero, the money " he stopped, then 

with a vague apologetic shrug of his shoulders : " the 
dinero, and you." 

" Ah? " sang the widow, sardonically, " you want 
me, do you ? " 

Gomez hesitated. He was not at all sure about that. 
But his orders were imperative. 

" Papa Gato wants you," he said, with more 
precision. 

" Ah it s your papa wants me, is it? Very 

well " her lips tightened into a line ominously 

straight " he shall have me ; oh, yes, indeed ! " 

Thus it was that an hour later the widow, erect 



238 CAYBIGAN 

and tense in a carro drawn by a pacific carabao, sur 
rounded by an escort of tulisanes with the grave and 
preoccupied air of people bearing a case of dynamite, 
followed by the holiday-decked populace and the de 
lirious blare and roar of the band, passed along the 
main street, by the Casa Popular, beneath the trium 
phal arch, to the outskirts of the pueblo, and on 
into the open country. 

The band, marking time with the populace on the 
edge of the town, which they were not to leave, was 
playing " Hail the Deliverer, Hail ! " 



m 

Long and in detail will Major General Gomez re 
member (he has now ample leisure for such exercises 
of memory between the four walls of a place called 
Bilibid) that march back to camp. And his bringing 
it to a successful termination will always stand as his 
most serious claim to military glory. 

It was not that the train was cumbersome. It con 
sisted, in fact, only of three carros, the first one 
containing the widow, the second the camphor-wood 
chest, inside of which was the town treasury, and the 
third, Mr. Rued, second-class inspector Philippine 
constabulary a roaring mad inspector, it might be 
added, and tied up like a sausage. He had been sur- 



CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO 239 

prised in bed; the ignominy of his taking was deep 
in his soul, and found vent in a stream of expressions 
Biblical and strenuous and not at all complimentary 
to his captors. 

No, the widow was the matter. 

It was that curious performance of Mr. Rued 
which caused the first outbreak. After listening med 
itatively for some ten minutes, the widow sud 
denly realised that here was something highly im 
proper. 

" Colonel," she cried, rising in her cart like a 
jack-in-the-box, "you will please place more dis 
tance between me and that blasphemous person 
yonder." 

There was a pause in the procession. New intervals 
were tried. But the widow s carabao was slow, and 
the inspector s, possibly impressed by the fervent solil 
oquy going on behind him, persisted in coming up 
within earshot. 

" Captain, I refuse to continue under the present 
conditions," ultimatumed the widow. And, springing 
out of her cart, she squatted resolutely in the centre 
of the road and refused to budge. 

A happy inspiration came to Gomez. He appealed 
to the inspector s chivalry. 

The inspector was cooling a bit by this time, and 
he was a man of some intelligence. 



240 CAYBIGAN 

" You cut that rope that holds me like a chicken," 
he said, " and I ll parleyvoo." 

Gomez cut the rope, and the inspector agreed to 
keep his feelings unexpressed. 

The procession moved on. The carabaos laboured, 
the carros creaked and groaned and wailed. The sun 
mounted, more biting every moment. The ladrones 
lit cigarettes and shuffled along the road. The widow 
dozed. 

A more pronounced lurch of her cart suddenly 
awakened her, and again her clamour was resounding 
in the heated silence. 

Again it was the unlucky inspector. His cart had 
crept up little by little, till close to the widow s, and 
her eyes had opened upon the fact that he was not 
properly clad. Now, such a thing at times is excusa 
ble. It isn t your fault if a band of pestiferous 
ladrones pounce upon you in the morning and whisk 
you out in your pajamas. 

" Sergeant," shrilled the widow (with concern 
Gomez noticed that each time she addressed him it 
was with a diminution of title) . " Sergeant, dress 
that man ! " 

Gomez demurred. Again the widow sprang from 
her cart and sat in the road. Again the train was 
blocked. 

" I will not budge till you have clothed that man," 



CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO 

the widow declared. " I insist upon a pair of 
trousers." 

There was a hurried questioning of the band, a 
general denegation, and Gomez returned, discour 
aged. 

" Senora, no hay pantalones," he announced. 

" Give him one of your own men s," she com 
manded briefly. 

Again the troop, drawn up in line, was ques 
tioned, but still more vehement were the denega- 
tions. It was not that they needed them so much for 
covering, those precious pantaloons; they were full 
of holes and covered little; but they were all more 
or less be-striped, and the men very properly re 
fused to part with their insignia of rank. The in 
spector, also, was interested. After a careful inspec 
tion, a horror at the thought of placing against his 
skin such garments as were displayed before him 
made his hair rise on end. Diplomatically he sug 
gested to the widow that a transfer would only add 
to the shame of the situation, for it would leave one 
of the ladrones with nothing on at all, while he, at 
least 

But he had pronounced his own doom. " I ll fix 
you," said the widow briefly. Untying the bundle of 
clothes she carried, she drew out a skirt, a short khaki 
walking-skirt, and after an insufficient smoothing 



CAYBIGAN 

of creases with the palm of her hand, she threw it at 
Gomez. " Put that on him, my man," she said. 

But the inspector protested. He, too, got down 
from his cart and squatted upon the road. And there 
they sat in the middle of the road, each behind his 
cart, the military man and the school-teacher, in a 
grim, silent battle of wills. And there was little hope 
of either ever yielding, for, really, they were not 
especially interested in the progress of the caravan. 
Gomez was, and at length he lost patience. There 
was a terrific struggle, twenty colonels bit the dust 
beneath the sledge-hammering of the desperate in 
spector s fist; but numbers prevailed at last, and 
again Mr. Rued was in his cart, trussed up like a 
pig for the market, and, flaccid about his legs, the 
unspeakable garment. But his cart had to be left 
far in the rear, for he evidently considered himself 
released from his former promise. 

And the procession moved on. There were minor 
obstacles. Once, the widow lost her glove and the 
command had to scatter back upon the road for a 
full half-hour of microscopic search till she found 
that it had miraculously caught on the axle of her 
cart. At the barrio where they stopped for the mid 
day rest, she sent back six distinct messes of eggs to 
the presidente s kitchen and finally invaded it her 
self, till the muchachos, beneath the severity of her 



CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO 243 

eyes, had evolved some turnovers satisfactory to her 
esthetic soul. And little by little, her bitter will was 
imposing itself more heavily upon the column. 
Colonels became muchachos and generals valets. 
When they stopped that night at Talisay, the best 
house of the pueblo was placed at her disposal; the 
presidente hustled at her orders, the kitchen was in 
panic, the household terrorised. Somewhat softened 
by her undeniable success, she sent for the inspector, 
who was brought to her, betrussed and beskirted. 
The long ride in the sun with his elbows together upon 
his spine had weakened him somewhat, and his re 
monstrances had sunk to unintelligible mumblings. 
Graciously she cut off his cords, and as he stood 
swaying before her, " Well," she said ; " aren t you 
ashamed of yourself, young man? Think of your 
mother; how would she have felt had she heard you 
a while ago " 

A last spark of defiance flared in the indomitable 
man. " My mother wasn t an old-maid she-cat," he 
muttered. But instinctively, in spite of his courage, 
his voice had sunk too low to be heard. 

" I have a son," began the widow, again. 
" jj c " 

" Lordie, but I d like to see the little nincompoop ! " 
said the inspector. 

But the widow was unshakable in her good humour. 



244 CAYBIGAN 

She ordered a room prepared for Mr. Rued, and 
later sent him a cup of tea of her own brew, which 
he promptly threw into the face of the astonished 
muchacho. 

They started again at sun-up. They left the road 
and filed along a narrow and steep trail. The widow 
insisted upon a chaise. One was improvised out of 
bamboo; and thus, as the shadows of night crept up 
the flanks of Taal, she made her triumphal entry into 
camp upon the shoulders of the four strongest 
colonels. 

Papa Gato had watched the procession winding 
up to him through the high fern, but as it neared a 
sudden timidity sent him back to his hut. Gomez 
found him there, in great indecision, alternately 
twirling his little moustache and rearranging upon 
his breast the seventeen medals he had decreed upon 
himself for extraordinary valour. 

" Greetings ! " he said, with a forced air of de 
cision. " Have you been successful? " 

Gomez took off his sombrero and mopped his 
brow. " I have her and the dinero and a con 
stabulary inspector," he answered evasively. 

" And she is here ! " whispered Gato with emotion. 
" I suppose I should go greet her." 

" Sure ! " said Gomez detachedly ; " go on to her ; 
I am tired, I ll wait here." 



CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO 245 

And throwing himself upon the cot, he turned his 
face to the wall. 

But as his chief left the cabin, he sprang up like 
one possessed, rushed to the door and peered ma 
liciously outside. 

Indistinct in the gloaming, a feminine form could 
be descried, regally erect, upon the high-borne chaise. 
Gato approached with beating heart. 

" Do not fear, senorita ; we shall not harm you," 
he said softly. " You are our guest ; the house is 
yours " 

He was very near now. 

" The house is yours, and " 

There was a sudden movement of the enigmatic 
figure upon the chaise. A furious slap sent his 
sombrero whirling to the ground. 

"You boorish little boy, you," rasped the voice 
of the widow ; " you little brute ! What do you mean, 
what do you mean by standing with your hat on, 
before an American lady ! " 

IV 

" Gomez," said Papa Gato disconsolately ; " Go 
mez, I can t stand it any longer ! " 

This was in the commandante s hut, during the 
burning hours of the siesta, and ten days after the 
arrival of the widow. Gato and Gomez were lying 



246 CAYBIGAN 

stomachs down upon a petate in attitudes of limp 
discouragement. 

" It s pretty bad," murmured Gomez meditatively. 

" We re up against it," went on Gato (all this 
took place in Tagalog, but is translated into equiva 
lent English). 

" We sure are," echoed Gomez sombrely. 

There was a long, pained silence. 

" Gomez," whined Gato, " I haven t a pulgada of 
authority left ! " 

"You certainly haven t," said Gomez, a certain 
appreciation brightening his manner. 

" And you have less ! " went on Gato. 

" The she-cat ! " spit out Gomez, all appreciation 
gone. 

" She bosses the camp ! " 

" She sure does." 

" We have to eat at tables now." 

With forks." 

" And say grace." 

" With our faces in our plates." 

" We have school every day," went on Gato, sink 
ing deeper and deeper into despair. 

" Do we ; well, I guess ! c Do you ssee dde hhett ? 
Yiss, I ssee dde hhett. How menny hhetts do you 
ssee? I ssee ttin hhetts. Oh, look at de moon, she is 
shining up there. I loof de name of Wash-ing-ton, 



CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO 247 

I loof my coon-tree, too ah, it makes me sick ! " 
And Gomez spit upon the ground. 

" Gomez, Gomez ; we must do something ! " 

" Go ahead " graciously. 

" Gomez "hopefully" let s chop off her head ! " 

" You can t " gloomily. 

" Good Lord, Gomez ; don t you think, with my 
best bolo, very well sharpened, if we hit hard, very 
hard, that maybe " 

" That s not it. Remember the speech she made to 
us the first day : 

" Keep that in your heathen minds. I m an 
American woman, an American woman, remember! 
That means I am sacred, sacred ! If you harm me, if 
you as much as touch one of my hairs " 

" But she has only two or three, Gomez ! " 

" Don t interrupt me * If you as much as touch 
one of my hairs, you know what will happen. The 
American soldiers will come after you. Not the 
scouts, not the constabulary, but the American sol 
diers. They will follow you like hounds, ten thou 
sand, a hundred thousand of them, if necessary. 
They will never let you rest. They will avenge me 
well, you know the American soldier, my friends. 
Don t get him mad. I am the American woman; I 
am sacred ! " 

" But, Gomez; do you think that is all true? " 



248 CAYBIGAN 

"It is; I know." 

" But, Gomez ; the Americans, they are not fools. 
They can see. They must know that she is old like 
my grandmother, that she is seven feet tall, that she 
takes out her teeth at night, that " 

" It doesn t matter ; she s an American woman." 

" Ah, these Americans ; what a singular people ! " 

A long contemplative silence. 

" Gomez, Gomez " with sudden inspiration 
" let s poison her ! " 

" Now you re talking like a babe ; there s the same 
objection." 

" Oh ! " more silent despair. 

" Gomez, let s take her back, back to Taal ! " 

" Umph what do you think the Taal people 
would do to us ? " 

" Madre de Dios, Gomez, is there no way, none 
at all?" 

" None I can see." 

"Then let me die!" 

But hope in human breast is indestructible. It 
was Gomez who, after all, found the solution. 

" We ll take her to some other town, some town 
where she is not known, absolutely not known," he 
proposed in rapt accents. 

" Bagum-Bagum ! " exclaimed Gato, rising to his 
feet ; " there s ten thousand pesos in the treasury ! " 



CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO 249 

" We ll raid the town and leave her there ! " 

" But say, there re some constabulary there ; do 
you know how many ? " 

" No, I don t know. But the constabulary inspector 
knows." 

" She s freed him, too ! " Gato flew from the im 
mediate consideration of practical things to a bitter 
recapitulation of wrongs. " He walks around the 
camp as if he owned it. And she gave him my best 
pantaloons, those with the gold stripes " 

" Never mind," said Gomez soothingly ; " we ll 
question him to-morrow." 



So it was that, upon getting up, a little later than 
usual, the next morning, the widow found the door 
of her hut locked from the outside. As has already 
appeared, the widow was a person of considerable 
executive ability. She wasted no time in idle recrim 
ination, but promptly kicked, through the nipa wall, 
a hole out of which she emerged, fresh, vigorous, and 
unruffled. 

An interesting scene met her interrogative eye. 
In the centre of the clearing a tripod had been con 
structed out of three great pieces of green bamboo. 
And even as she looked a man was tying a supple 
liana to the apex, while another worker tied a slip 



250 CAYBIGAN 

knot to the loose extremity. Then a little fire of twigs 
was started beneath. 

" Umph," grunted the widow ; " I wonder what 
these heathen think they re going to cook." 

She was not left guessing long. Out of one of the 
Euts, again bound hand and foot, Mr. Rued was 
being carried by six stalwarts. He was strangely 
silent. And his face was pale and tense. He was 
borne to the tripod; the loose end of the liana was 
passed in a slip knot around his body, a little below 
the waist, then one, two, three the carriers sud 
denly let go, and the inspector, dangling at the end 
of the liana, swung neatly, head downward, over the 
little fire. 

Papa Gato sauntered up close, " And now, will 
you tell us how many men there are in Bagum-Ba- 
gum ? " he asked suavely. 

The inspector did not answer. His face was very 
red and his jaws were very salient. A few dry twigs 
were placed upon the fire, which sprang up, crack 
ling. There was a faint smell of burning hair. 

Something like a beskirted cyclone whirred into 
the circle. Biff bang; two kicks scattered the little 
fire to the four winds. Zip the liana was cut with 
a big jackknife, and the widow, gurgling and chok 
ing, was bending over the luckless Mr. Rued. " You 
poor dear," she gulped ; " you poor baby " and she 






CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO 251 

pressed him to her arid bosom. " Here, water, you 
heathen, water ! " 

But the inspector, very much alive, was struggling 
to get loose ; and her glance, falling upon Papa Gato, 
watching the strange performance with wonder- 
dilated eyes, suddenly changed the nature of her 
emotion. " You devil ! " she shrieked, and she sprang 
to her feet ; " You fiend I " and she started toward 
him. 

To Papa Gato s eternal credit be it said that 
he held his ground for several distinct seconds. But 
the vision of vengeance bearing down upon him was 
more than mortal man could bear. He broke one step, 
hesitated, then all his courage oozing out of him 
suddenly, he turned deliberately and ran. Once 
around the clearing he loped, the sound of flapping 
skirts ominous in his ears ; then a second time, for 
the widow had picked up a stick, and with mechanical 
precision it was rising and falling only a few inches 
behind his head; a third lap he began, and by that 
time all the dogs of the camp had joined the chase 
in tumultuous glee. And it was a strange sight, up 
in that lonely clearing, surrounded on all sides by 
an impenetrable and poisonous vegetation, beneath 
the shadow of Taal, brooding and sinister with its 
black banner of vapours, in the hollow silence of high 
altitudes, that man running in sober earnest, with 



252 CAYBIGAN 

an immense concentration of his simple purpose, and 
behind him that incredible woman, flashing-eyed, 
hook-nosed, her garments to the wind, seemingly 
gliding over the high grass, a gigantic and fearful 
witch, riding a broomstick. In the centre, from a few 
dying embers, a little smoke rose, and about that 
were grouped the tulisanes, in frozen attitudes, like 
a bronze bas-relief, and they looked at their running 
chief, at the pursuing woman, without a gesture, 
without a cry, without the single flapping of an eye 
lid. And behind the nightmare couple ran the dogs, 
the curs of the camp, snarling and laughing and 
gurgling like a pack of hyenas. 

To this preoccupation of man and dog may be 
ascribed the ensuing catastrophe. For suddenly, 
close, so close that the vibration of it could be felt, 
but muffled in the impenetrability of the jungle, a 
shot rang out. This was followed by a crepitating 
volley ; a buzz of lead passed overhead. Silently, with 
a minimum of movement, the ladrones, as if at a pre 
conceived signal, slid across the clearing and into the 
wilderness beyond. Just at that psychological mo 
ment, the widow caught up with Gato. Calmly, 
dexterously, as one spanks a child, she upset him, 
face down, and resolutely sat upon him. Then, re 
adjusting her skirts about her limbs and her 
spectacles upon her nose, she grimly waited. 



CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO 253 

Shouts came to her ears, a hewing and hacking of 
bushes, a crackling of bamboo. Vague brown spots 
appeared against the metallic green foliage ; they 
massed, detached themselves and burst into the clear 
ing a detachment of constabulary. At their head, 
charging furiously, was a lieutenant, slender and 
boyish, in accoutrement ridiculously new. He was en 
joying himself immensely. A fine ardour was in his 
face ; his cap was off, his hair streaming in the wind ; 
he held a naked sword extended up and forward in 
statuesque gesture. Across the clearing he came, 
straight as a bee; his eyes flashing, his nostrils dis 
tended, all athrill with military glory. 

And suddenly he was nose to nose with the widow, 
who had slowly risen and now confronted him ma 
jestically, her foot upon the luckless Papa Gato. An 
extraordinary change came over the young warrior. 
His martial excitement, his keen zest, his bravado 
collapsed; his sword dropped till its point touched 
the ground; his flaming uniform took on cringing 
folds. 

" Mamma ! " he cried, a little wistfully. 

" Boy," shouted the widow ; " boy, what are you 
doing here ! Quick, give me this " she snatched the 
sword from his hand " that also " she whisked 
the revolver out of his holster. " Oh, that child, that 
child," she wailed. Out in the jungle there were cries, 



CAYBIGAN 

hollow and muffled in the crape of vegetation ; a few 
shots rang, dull as if underground. Three or four 
bullets whirred overhead. 

" Down ! Down ! " cried the widow ; " down, boy " 
and her iron claw sank into his shoulder, bearing 
him down, and unresistingly he fell upon the luckless 
Gato. " That s right, sit on him," the widow whis 
pered hoarsely ; " and don t you move, don t you 
budge. My God, if only I can get you out of 

this " She turned toward the jungle, straight 

to her full height, a strange, inflexible figure with 
the sabre in her right hand, the revolver in her left, 
a heroic figure, really, keeping guard there upon her 
boy, her son, her baby, her treasure in life; the object 
upon which had flowed all her wealth of love, of ten 
derness, leaving her, soul and body, arid and sterile 
and bitter and awesome. 

In the depths toward which she peered with 
watchful eyes, a vague, mysterious tumult was taking 
place, lost, devoured in the brooding silence about it. 
It came in multitudinous attenuated noises, like a 
ventriloquist performance; murmurs rose from the 
ground at her feet, wails sighed overhead. 

Her back to her son, tensely keeping guard, she 
was questioning feverishly. 

" Oh, why did you come ? How could you, how 
could you! Without telling me. This country is not 



CAPTURE OF PAPA GATO 255 

fit for you. And the constabulary! How could you, 
how could you ! " 

He answered her as well as he could. Really, he 
would have preferred to be out there, with his men in 
the jungle. But he was subjugated. The training of 
his childhood had fallen back upon him like an un 
shakable harness. So he remained, seated upon Papa 
Gato, answering hysterical questions. 

Really, it was a pretty bit of coincidence the 
young man, suddenly boiling with desire to do, leav 
ing his college, taking a commission in the Philippine 
constabulary, arriving over the sea just in time to 
learn of his mother s capture, begging for a place 
in the rescuing party, then, in feverish impatience, 
distancing with his detachment all the others 

From the depths of the jungle, piercing above the 
muffled tumult, there came a great, clear cry. Then 
there was absolute silence. A fly buzzed about the 
group. A squad of constabulary men, soiled, bloody, 
and dishevelled, carrying a bound prisoner, broke 
into the clearing. Another the affair was over. 

The sword fell with a clang from the widow s hand ; 
the revolver rolled after it; and then, stiffly, with 
extraordinary dignity, she slowly fell into the arms 
of her son. The widow had fainted. 

But it was a weakness that was but momentary. 
By the time that civilisation was reached, she was 



256 CAYBIGAN 

again in possession of all her faculties. Thus it was 
that young Pinney sat down, and, beneath the rigid 
shadow of her dominating presence, filled out a blank 
form of resignation for the benefit of the chief in 
Manila ; and thus it is that he now catches flies in the 
drowsy office of one of the " snap " departments, 
while the widow spanks young hopefuls in the Manila 
normal school. 



XI 

THE MANANGETE 1 

FAR down the palm-lined road they appeared, near- 
ing with perplexing rapidity. The head of my com 
panion snapped forward and his eyes flamed. They 
came in a file down the road, between the palm trees, 
in the glowing tropic light, swinging along with 
smooth, resistless progress. They seemed to glide; 
the bamboo poles, balanced on their shoulders, slid 
as if on invisible tracks laid above the ground, and 
the tuba buckets at the ends were steady as if float 
ing in the air. Soon they were near. The play of 
their great thigh muscles became visible. They turned 
the corner of the plaza with a new burst of speed, 
and then they passed us in magnificent action. Down 
their naked heels came in turn, pounding the ground ; 
in one long, smooth sweep from waist to toe the legs 
flashed back in a quivering of ropy sinew. Their 
naked bronze busts glistening with sweat, and the 
supple back muscles, giving at each step beneath the 

iManangete is a Negros Visayan dialect word, denominat 
ing the men who gather tuba. Tuba is the fermented sap of 
the coconut palm, obtained by incisions made at the top of 
the tree. 

257 



258 CAYBIGAN 

bamboo poles, undulated liquidly beneath the golden 
skin. Through the palm leaves covering the buckets 
a slight froth played like silver lace. They passed 
us in a flash of gleaming bronze; the creak of the 
bamboo poles shrieked in our ears ; the pungent, 
sulphurous odour of the tuba stung our nostrils, and 
then they vanished in the kaleidoscopic colour-play 
of the market. 

My eyes fell upon my companion. He was lean 
ing forward, his shrivelled legs collapsed beneath the 
trunk, his whole weight upon his hands, his head 
straining ahead like that of a bird in flight, and in 
his eyes something strange and moving a soft, re 
gretful gleam, yes God bless me, how strange it 
seemed in that sullen, stolid cripple ! a look of long 
ing, longing infinite. 

From this day I watched him, watched him as the 
tuba-carriers flashed into the pueblo, at high noon. 

He was about forty years old, and above the waist 
he was beautiful. From the belt the body shot up 
ward, broadening like a Greek urn into a deep chest, 
and wide, massive shoulders. Beneath the gleaming 
terra-cotta skin the muscle played in elastic bundles 
of power. His face was hatchet-carved, with a re 
lentless jaw and eagle nose, and his straight black 
hair was ennobled by a sprinkle of gray. 



THE MANANGETE 259 

But below the waist was ruin. He had been ham 
strung. His legs were folded flaccidly beneath the 
trunk, the calf against the thigh powerless things 
which, as he dragged himself on his hands, trailed 
limply behind as if some ignoble, useless attachment 
of the great body above. 

It was not often that he courted this humiliation. 
Usually he was in his nipa hut in the coconuts, silent 
and alone. But regularly, a little before noon, he 
dragged himself to his station in front of the store 
of Gong Ah Deam, merchant and usurer, and there, 
leaning against the wall, he watched and waited for 
the coming of the mafiangetes. There was something 
tragic about the man, a singular dignity of woe, and 
as he crouched there, that quality made him appear 
as tall as those about him. He never spoke, and an 
awe partly superstitious, I think kept a vacant 
circle around him. 

One day that man told me his story. He told it to 
me in hoarse whispers, impelled by some torturing 
desire to unburden himself, in front of the store of 
Gong Ah Deam, there, awaiting the coming of the 
tuba-carriers. 

" I was one of them, senor," he said, pointing with 
his chin toward the far vista where the tuba-men 
would presently appear ; " I was a manangete ; yes, 



260 CAYBIGAN 

the strongest and fleetest of them. For five years I 
was the leader of the file. They would challenge me 
often at first. As we strained toward the far pueblo, 
in turn each would move up and try to pass me, but 
I only quickened a little as the man tugged at my 
side, his breath whistling like the wind through the 
coco trees, his legs stiffening till they cracked, till 
finally he dropped back, gasping, to the foot of the 
line, the tuba running down the sides of the bucket, 
while another spurted up to wrest from me the 
honour. After two years they ceased to challenge 
me all except one. I was their acknowledged king 
except by one. His name was Herrera. He was 
small and light and stringy. He had no chance 
against me. I could laugh and sing as he walked at 
my elbow, agonising with the effort. Day after day, 
as I raced proudly along, the long line behind me, 
the bamboo pole springing lightly on my shoulder, 
the tuba frothing in the buckets, I felt him start out 
of his place; soon his hot breath was on my neck, 
and out of the corner of my eye I saw his evil, yellow 
face. I hummed and sang and cracked my muscle 
with walking. And he hung on, I don t know how, 
senor, he hung on mile after mile, till I thought he 
would die. Then suddenly he reeled and sobbed, and 
inch by inch I passed him, proudly smiling, while his 
heart burst with bitterness. We rushed into the pu- 



THE MANANGETE 

eblo, and as I, raising my head, spurted with new 
speed, and each man, his eyes glued upon the back 
ahead, strained to keep up, I knew that he was last 
in the line, staggering blindly, his tuba spilling at 
every step, a disgraceful spectacle. And to my ears 
came the laughter of the women, pointing their fin 
gers at him. 

" They looked at me with longing eyes ; they 
laughed at him. For I was strong and beautiful, 
senor. Look at these arms they were a third bigger 
then. And my thighs they are shrivelled and soft 
now, like meat that has hung in the market too long 
but they were like the trunk of the iron tree, strong 
as the carabao s, fleet as the mountain deer s. And he 
was small and dried, and his legs were bowed. 

" Senor, I knew why he challenged me thus day 
after day. He loved Constancia Torres. And I loved 
her, too. 

" We had played together when children ; we were 
youths and did not know it ; one day I saw her come 
out of the bath and suddenly I was a man. Her drip 
ping patadyon, wrapped high beneath her arm 
pits, followed the curves of her body like a long 
caress; above, her shoulders glowed like polished 
gold, and over all there fell to her heels the glistening 
glory of her black hair. And her eyes were deep as 
the pools of the Cabancalan, and her voice was soft 



CAYBIGAN 

as the sigh of the breeze through the sugar cane at 
sundown, and I loved her, sefior. 

" Of course I won her. I went to her father one 
evening and asked for her and got her. She stood 
aside while I spoke; a corner of her camisa had 
slipped down from her left shoulder and the light 
shone on the golden skin. She did not smile when her 
father assented. Next day we were married by Padre 
Marcelino, and she did not smile. 

" But I did not care, senor. It seemed such a little 
thing, her indifference, near my love. Senor, you have 
seen the hot breath of the monsoon pass over the 
land, day after day, month after month, till the 
palms and the bamboo and the sugar cane all bend 
its self-willed way. My love was the hot monsoon and 
she was the bamboo wisp. 

" I took her away to my new nipa-hut, under the 
coconut palms. And I trembled to my own happiness 
as the violin vibrates to its own music. 

" I could not sleep those days, senor, I was so 
happy. At sundown I climbed the tall coconut trees, 
my bolo between my teeth. I hacked at the shoots 
above and hung my buckets, and then slid down and 
found her. We stood long at the window, senor, in 
the night. The wind blew softly through the trees. 
Beneath the leaves the stars shone upon our love, 
and when the breeze ceased, so quiet was it, senor, 



THE MANANGETE 263 

that we could hear the gentle dripping of the tuba 
in the buckets, above us in the sky. And we would 
stay thus many hours of the night, senor, my arms 
about her, her soft body against mine, and it was 
only later that I remembered that all the caresses 
came from me. 

" Senor, I was so happy, that I forgot to hate. 
The day after my marriage I let Herrera lead into 
the pueblo. The next day he was not in line, nor 
ever after. Senor, the man who forgets to hate is 
a fool. 

" All about me there was a rippling of evil laugh 
ter, and winkings and signs and tappings of fingers 
on foreheads. And I was blind. 

" One afternoon, late, as I was coming back to my 
hut, my empty buckets swinging on the pole, 
my eyes fixed upon the little nipa-roof already show 
ing through the trees, and hunger of love in my 
heart, I tripped against a liana across the path. 
There was a whirr of pliable bamboo and something 
sharp whistled through the air and struck me there, 
behind the knee, with the sound of the butcher s 
cleaver cutting meat. I fell, and my legs were as 
they are now. Senor, you have fought in the war; 
you know the bamboo-trap. A bamboo-trap had been 
laid for me. 

" My legs were gone, but something terrible 



264 CAYBIGAN 

whispered in my heart that I should be home. And I 
was there almost as quick as if I had been still a 
man, and not a worm. 

" Senor, the house was deserted. As I crawled 
about like a dog smelling tracks, there was not a 
trace of the woman I loved. 

" Then all that my eyes had refused to see, all 
that my ears had refused to hear poured into me in 
a black tide. I knew why the pueblo had laughed. 
And throwing myself on my back I shivered all night 
with pain and lust to kill. " 

The man suddenly leaned forward and his eyes 
flamed. The manangetes were rushing into the town. 
Smoothly they glided around the plaza, and then they 
passed us in a flash of gleaming bronze. The creak 
ing of the bamboo poles shrieked in our ears, the 
pungent sulphurous odour of the tuba bit our nostrils, 
and long with a wistful look the cripple followed them 
till they were lost in the palpitating colour-play of 
the market. 

Four miles from Cabancalan there is a lonely pile 
of rocks of evil repute. Heavy, cannon-like reports 
come from it at times, and a sickening smell of sul 
phur pinches the nostrils a quarter of a mile away. 

I was passing the place at noon one day when I 



THE MANANGETE 265 

saw a man crawling queerly among the rocks. His 
movements were so suspicious that I dismounted and 
followed him. 

I gained fast and finally a full look as he passed 
around a big boulder intensified my surprise. It was 
the cripple of the pueblo, the old manangete. 

He was labouring heavily, dragging himself on 
his hands, his big chest wet with perspiration, and 
a glint of baneful determination in his eye. After 
a dolorous scramble through putrescent vegetation 
and leprous rocks, he slid down a little ravine into 
a cup-like depression bare of plant life except at the 
farther end, where a gigantic banyan embraced the 
earth with its huge tentacle roots. 

He crawled to the middle of the clearing, and then 
he stopped, on his hands and knees, looking at some 
thing on the ground which I could not see. I waited 
for half an hour, but he remained thus in this strange 
posture and I silently crawled back and away. 

The next morning, early, I was back at the place. 
I slid down the little ravine into the cup-like depres 
sion. It was deserted. A white object on the ground 
caught my eye. It was a human skull. 

It was a human skull, white and polished with age. 
And its lower jaw was twisted in a most abominable 
grin. 

I touched the thing to roll it over. It was fast. I 



266 CAYBIGAN 

felt beneath. The sharp, saw-like edge of vertebrae 
rasped my fingers. I dug the earth beneath. The 
vertebrae extended downward for a few inches and 
then the smooth collar bones crossed them at right 
angles. 

I understood. An entire skeleton was there, buried 
upright to the neck. I thought I understood also the 
abominable grin. 

I did not want to see any more; but as I turned 
away a whiteness among the octopus-like tentacles 
of the banyan compelled me. 

I took a few steps and stood before a skeleton. It 
was tied upright to the banyan roots by an iron 
chain, corroded with rust. There was no flesh on the 
thing, but a stream of heavy black hair cascaded 
down from the skull to the heels, undulating in and 
out of the ribs. 

One more thing I noticed. The hollow eyes of the 
skeleton among the banyan roots were focused upon 
the centre of the clearing. In the centre of the clear 
ing was the skull of the horrible grin, and its staring 
orbits were turned upon the roots of the banyan tree. 

For a moment I was too cold to climb out of the 
place. Yet when I succeeded my body was wet with 
perspiration. 



XII 
THE PAST 

i HE coconut palms rose straight to heaven, bend 
ing pliably to the western breeze; their heads tapped 
gently against each other and a murmur of secrets 
sighed overhead. From the shifting shreds of sky 
the sun fell upon the sands in heavy gold spots. To 
the east, through the lithe, silver trunks, the vivid 
green of the rice fields flashed; to the west a tawny 
thread of beach banked up the rippling tide. 

In the darkness of the recess a frail hut of nipa 
leaves and bamboo slowly shaped itself as I advanced, 
and suddenly a shrill voice, rasping as the violin 
note of the tyro, pierced the peace of the place. In 
the doorway, at the head of the cane ladder, old 
Marietta was gesticulating. 

" Oh, seiior," she called asthmatically ; " pray 
come in ; visit your humble servant. The house is 
yours, the tuba is fresh, and coconuts are in the 
trees." 

" Not to-day, Marietta ; not to-day," I called back, 
" I m going on to Suay ; I can t stop." 

She threw her arms up in consternation. " To 
267 



268 CAYBIGAN 

Suay, senor, to Suay? Jose-Maria! do you not see 
the baguio coming? Soon it will be upon you, the 
trees will bend, the coconuts will fall, and you will 
die ! " 

The typhoon of the Philippines is not to be dis 
dained. A picture formed in my mind of falling trees, 
rent bridges, melted roads. I stopped, hesitating, 
looked up at the blue sky above, listened to the reg 
ular breath of the wind. " Nonsense ! " I said, and 
just then a sudden gust screeched overhead; the coco 
nuts bent in half circles, snapped back, bent again 
with weird elasticity. Before my mind could fairly 
seize them, before the impression of them could be 
more than hazy and faint as those of a dream, these 
manifestations ceased. The wind fell dead, the trees 
came back to equilibrium. A heavy torpor descended 
upon the land. 

" I ll come in, Marietta," I decided, " and you ll 
tell me more of the Negritos in the hills." 

She did not answer, but waited for me at the head 
of the bamboo ladder a weird, dried-up mummy of 
a woman, with teeth corroded by the betel-nut, and 
eyes that flashed hard beneath the heavy, yellow folds 
of the lids an old witch, fit for broomstick rides 
and the nightmares of children. Inside, I sat down 
upon the bench by the window while she squatted 
upon the bamboo-strip floor, a big cheroot tied up 



THE PAST 269 

with hemp fibre in her mouth, a hollow coconut filled 
with tuba at her side. But she did not speak. A 
strange taciturnity was upon her; she sat there 
speechless, motionless, like some monstrous idol, her 
lids half-dropped over eyes that showed opaque and 
dead. 

" Well, Marietta," I said at length ; " what about 
that coconut milk you promised me? " 

" Oh, senor, pardon me, pardon your servant. Tis 
the baguio. When I feel the baguio coming I forget ; 
I think of other days." 

She half rose, then sank again upon her heels, her 
mind refusing to stay with the present. 

" For there were other days, senor," she said 
gently ; " ah, yes, far other days ! " 

She rocked herself slowly to and fro, her face in 
her hands. Outside, the heavy torpor was suddenly 
torn by a shriek in the upper layers of air. A few 
great drops pattered resoundingly upon the nipa 
roof, then heat and silence reigned again, with the 
torment of the woman s soul. 

Curiously I looked upon the old crone. She sat 
there rocking gently from side to side, her lips bub 
bling in meaningless mutters. Then her yellow paw 
crept down her arid bosom, fumbled beneath her 
camisa, and reappeared with something in it that 
flashed gold. She pressed it to her withered lips and 



270 CAYBIGAN 

I saw that it was a locket pressed it to her withered 
lips with a singular intensity of passion; pressed it 
there again and again and that sudden flash of 
something long gone, of a spark, dying, perhaps, 
but which in that ruined body should have been long 
dead, moved me with uneasiness, as if I were watching, 
and a party to, a sacrilege. 

But she dropped her hands upon her lap in a 
gesture of infinite hopelessness and she began to 
speak, to speak in a queer sing-song, a monotonous 
chant, like some religious recital of her Malay an 
cestors suddenly coming back to her through the 
ages. 

" Ah, he was beautiful, senor ; he was beautiful, 
he was beautiful, he was beautiful! He was tall and 
straight like the coco tree; his hair curled like the 
waves upon the sand, and his eyes were deep and soft 
like the pools of the Cabancalan. He came to me 
from over the seas, senor; from far-away Spain. I 
was standing on the beach, right over there. There 
were many boat-loads of soldiers landing, and he 
was on the foremost prao. It came straight to me, 
foaming with eagerness, its wings spread out like 
those of a butterfly, flying over the waves, and he 
stood at the bow. His cap was in his hand ; the wind 
blew his hair of gold into a halo like that of the 
Christ of the Santa Iglesia ; the sun beat down upon 



THE PAST 271 

his white suit and he glistened like a god. Straight 
for the spot where I stood, senor; straight as your 
compass needle points to the north, the prao steered 
from afar, and not a palm s breadth either way did 
it turn as it foamed toward me. And when, heeling 
over like a wounded bird, it grounded in the shallows, 
and ten men jumped out into the water to carry him 
ashore, he motioned them off, sprang himself into 
the waves waist-deep, and impatiently, as a horse 
paws, he forced his way toward me. Then a fear 
entered my heart and I fled, fled back into the woods, 
to my hut, and threw myself upon the floor panting, 
panting and dreaming. 

" I was not ugly, then, senor ; ah, no, I was not 
ugly ; age and sorrow had not yet knotted me like 
the roots of the banyan. I was Queen then, senor ; the 
Queen of Beauty among my own people. At the pro 
cession it was I that stood on a pedestal, clad in 
gold and silk, the picture of the Mother of God. At 
the bailes it was I that the young men sought, and 
it was for me, senor, that Juan Perez had a knife 
plunged between his shoulders, one dark night, long 
ago. It was long ago, senor ; it was long ago. 

" I was beautiful, senor, and I knew my beauty. 
I was proud, proud of my dark eyes, of my golden 
shoulders, of the hair that fell about me like a gar 
ment to the ground when I unrolled it in the sun, after 



272 CAYBIGAN 

the bath at the spring. I was loved, senor ; I was de 
sired; my fame was all over Negros and had no 
boundaries but the sea; but I, I loved no one; I 
railed and scoffed at all ; I loved no one, till he came. 

" Then, senor, railing and scoffing died upon my 
lips ; all things hard and mean died within me, and 
I felt my heart open, bloom, till it seemed my breast 
would not hold it. Ah, those were happy days, senor ; 
days of beauty. Then the sky was blue, the sun was 
golden, the breeze was soft it was long ago, senor; 
it was long ago. He was my sun, and the warmth and 
the beauty of him entered my heart till it burst into 
bloom like the purple moon-flower. We were of differ 
ent race, but he taught me. He taught me, ah, many 
things, but what are they, senor, what is anything, 
compared to love? And he taught me to love. In the 
evenings, after sundown, we roamed the groves to 
gether, in the pale moonshine, and the sea shimmered 
and the trees whispered, and in my ear was the music 
of his voice, on my hand the caress of his hand ah, 
senor, senor, why do these things stay with us ; why, 
when they pass, do they not leave us, and not stay 
and stay and stay and torment and torture, hooked to 
our hearts with double barbs senor, you who know 
so many things, can you tell me that? 

" Listen, senor ! Over there, where the river goes 
into the sea and the bamboos grow almost into the 



THE PAST 

sky, he built a little nipa house. And it was ours, 
ours, all our own ; and it was there that we lived. 
Lived, you understand ; it is true that some of his time 
was passed elsewhere; he had the cuartel and his 
soldiers, but it was here that he lived, for it was here 
that he loved. Senor, in that little house by the side 
of the sea, it was there that happiness dwelled, hap 
piness such as there never had been, such as there 
never will be. Senor, I was beautiful then now I 
am old and dried ; I chew betel ; I drink tuba ; I spit. 
But this is not all the work of years. I might have 
grown old as the corn grows old golden-ripe, but 
now, you see, I do not care. He taught me, then he 
left me, and my heart fell back like a rock, aye, and 
lower than he had found it. 

" For, of course, he left me, sefior. I have learned 
since it is the way you whites, you always leave. 
He went back to his Spain. He was to return in a 
year. The year passed and he did not come back. 
Then another and another. It was many years before 
he returned. The little hut in the bamboos by the river 
sagged, drooped, rotted ; till there was left nothing 
but the four big corner-posts of narra standing up 
right, with between them a little mound upon which 
the grass grew high, a little mound like a grave, the 
grave of our love. I grew old with the waiting, the 
longing ; my heart was all alone, all alone ; and when 



CAYBIGAN 

he landed again, in the green dawn, one day, he did 
not know the woman squatting on the beach, so near 
that one of his soldiers pushed her away with his 
foot to let him pass. He came not alone, sefior. With 
him was a white woman, his wife, with eagle nose and 
proud bearing and skin like the flesh of the coconut. 
He did not allow his soldiers to carry her, but went 
in himself, all booted, to the hips in the surf. His arm 
went around her waist; but, senor, she only looked 
that her dress would not touch the water. And I knew 
within me that when he had forsaken me for her, love 
had lost. 

" I did not die, senor, although I thought I would 
as I sat there long after he had gone, sat there 
through the biting of the midday sun till the poisoned 
breath of the night blew into my face. I went back 
to my hut and lived. I lived as others ; I married, I 
bore children. These children have borne children; 
their children have borne children. I lived, but I did 
not love. 

" And he, he also lived, and his wife had children. 
He lived, but he did not love, senor. 

" And thus year passed after year. I saw him little. 
Once, at sundown, as I was crossing the plaza the 
portals of his stone mansion clanged open and his 
carriage rolled out. I saw them pass, he and his 
wife, she straight and proud, he leaning forward a 



THE PAST 275 

little, as if tired, and as long as the carriage was 
in sight I saw them, side by side, but both looking 
straight ahead far, far ahead, as if seeking some 
thing and not once at each other. And. he, he saw 
me not at all. 

" One night, senor, the baguio swept the land, as 
it will to-day soon. There were shrieks all night, and 
the sea-roar and the tree-roar filled the darkness. 

" And, in the morning, senor, as the sun rose upon 
the ruins of the night, there was noise and crying and 
a moving to and fro among the people of the pueblo. 
Squads of soldiers tramped about, taos beat the 
bush, and bloodhounds sniffed the ground. People 
whispered that the Commandante had left his house 
in the evening and had not yet returned. 

" They found him, senor, in the bamboos by the 
river, midst the rotting remains of an old hut. One 
of the big corner posts had fallen upon him, and he 
lay there dead, stretched across the grass-grown 
mound that looked like a grave. 

" But I had found him first, senor. And in his 
hand there was a locket, and in the locket there was 
a wisp of hair. And the hair was not of his wife." 

Marietta stopped. Her mouth twisted in a con 
vulsive grimace and two glistening things ran down 
the lines of her cheek. 



276 CAYBIGAN 

And outside, with a long-drawn wail, the baguio 
at length swooped down upon us. The hut shuddered 
like a live thing, the trees clashed, the sea pounded 
and hissed. But in the dark, silent, immovable, squat 
ting in infinite lassitude of posture, Marietta wept, 
wept over the past, the past with its irrevocable ruins, 
the past, gone beyond recalling, beyond amendment, 
but still with her, ever with her ? with its double- 
barbed torture. 



XIII 
THE PREROGATIVE 

LlTTLE Carnota Roa was dead, and they were 
burying him. 

The father came first, bearing the coffin on his 
shoulder. He was a manangete; that is, for a living 
he climbed the coconut trees, hanging his buckets till 
full of tuba sap and then carrying them, balanced 
at the ends of a bamboo pole, seven miles to the pu 
eblo, on the trot. This occupation had made him very 
strong, so that now he bore the little box as if it were 
a feather. It was a pretty coffin. On a frame of 
bamboo sticks they had stretched a new patadyon, 
bright red and yellow, and on this they had stuck 
rosettes of white, pink, and blue tissue paper. It was 
beautiful. The brother followed the father. He 
carried a big shovel for the hole that had to be dug 
over there, in the black ooze of the cemetery, amid 
bones of men and carabaos. He wore a camisa, but 
no pantaloons, for they were very poor. Behind the 
brother came the mother. From her armpits a 
flaming red patadyon fell to her naked feet, red 
being the colour that must be worn for children and 

277 



278 CAYBIGAN 

Carnota being only six. In her left hand she carried 
a big, black cotton umbrella; in her right hand she 
carried a tallow candle. The tiny flame sputtered and 
crackled in the stifling air and a thread of vapour 
rose from it toward heaven, humble incense praying 
to the Great God for the little soul ascending to 
Him. 

The forlorn procession, man with coffin, boy with 
shovel, woman with candle, wound through the high 
grass across the plaza. The passage of a ditch 
caused some disorder. From the coffin, leaping across 
on the man s shoulder, a pink-and-blue rosette fell. 
The woman picked it up and they stopped while she 
pinned it back with a bamboo thorn. During the 
operation the candle dropped and went out. The 
man laid the coffin down, scratched some matches 
and finally relit it. Meanwhile the boy sat down on 
the shovel. He was very small and the shovel was very 
big. At last the man picked up the coffin, the boy 
picked up the shovel, and they moved on to the 
church. 

The church was closed, for the padres had been 
driven out by the revolution two years before and had 
never returned. So the coffin was laid on the ground 
at the great barred doors, a naive little object beg 
ging for a mite of the holy emanation that still clung 
about the great building as some vague odour of 



THE PREROGATIVE 279 

incense. The mother let tallow drip upon the 
frame, then stuck the candle upright into it. She 
opened the big umbrella and set it down so that the 
stinging sun-rays of noon should not shine through 
the thin cloth of the coffin into the closed eyes of 
Carnota. The man crouched down against the church 
wall, the boy sat on the shovel, and the woman 
squatted on her heels by her husband. 

It was noon, and the perpendicular sun dripped 
molten lead upon the land. The tin roof of the 
church crackled, white with heat ; the tin roof of the 
school crackled back to it; the heat, reverberated 
from one to the other, fell into the space between, 
and the pink-and-blue rosettes on the coffin shrunk 
like sensitive things. 

A big fly buzzed near and the woman wafted it 
away. A little fly struck the candle and boiled to 
death in the molten tallow. From a hole in the 
church wall a big gee-kaw lizard uttered his hoarse, 
spasmodic cry three times, then stopped, smothered 
by the heat. Ten feet away a carabao plumped into 
a mud hole with a cool, squashy sound. A heavy 
silence fell upon the plaza, punctuated only by the 
raucous breathing of a big American cavalry-horse, 
dying of the surra by the cuartel. 

The door of the school-house opened, and the 
Maestro came out. Almost at the same time the 



280 CAYBIGAN 

Lieutenant stepped out of the cuartel. He stopped 
to look at the horse and the Maestro joined him. 

The animal, a big gray, was. standing with his four 
legs wide apart, like the tripod of a camera. His 
ribs stood out like the ribs of a long-stranded dere 
lict; his legs were puffed up as big as barrels, and 
a viscous fluid oozed from his nostrils. A cloud 
of flies buzzed about this already half-carrion 
flesh. 

The Maestro looked into the patient, bulging, 
blood-shot eyes. 

"He wiU die? "he asked. 

" Yes, they all die," said the officer, 

" Why don t you have it shot? " 

The officer smiled, a trifle embarrassed. 

" Well," he said, " you know they re great on red- 
tape in the army. If the horse dies naturally, the 
post-surgeon can fill out a comparatively brief re 
port ; if he orders it shot, he will have to write out 
some five foolscap pages. The Doc., you know, is 
pretty lazy ; so he chooses the short report-" 

" I see," said the Maestro. 

They separated. The forlorn group at the church 
door drew a shrug of the shoulders from the officer. 
The Maestro stopped and approached it. 

The woman nudged the man with her elbow. " The 
Maestro f " she whispered, awestruck. 



THE PREROGATIVE 281 

They scrambled to their feet and stood respect 
fully before him. Their downcast eyes peered at him 
half -anxious, half -wondering. For he was a strange 
person, the Maestro. Carnota had often told about 
him. 

The first day he had come to school he had been 
very angry because, turning around upon the crash 
of a chart, upset by one of the boys in a sly antic> 
he had found all the index-fingers converging duti 
fully upon the abashed culprit. 

He was very queer* He did not like the boys to 
tell on each other. 

Every morning he made them go through violent 
movements with their arms, their legs, their bodies ; 
and they were very tired, for the palay crop had 
failed and they had little in their stomachs. 

But if he was queer at school, he was still more 
queer at home. 

One Saturday afternoon, Carnota, peering with 
his brother into the Maestro s house, had retreated 
suddenly, very much awed and astonished. 

For the Maestro, in his shirt sleeves, was insanely 
pounding away at a big, round ball that hung from 
the ceiling by a string. He hit and hit and hit, and 
the ball rebounded from his fist to the ceiling so fast 
that it sounded like the escribiente beating a bandillo 
upon his drum, only much louder. 



282 CAYBIGAN 

The man and the woman stood before the Maestro, 
thinking of these things. And he stood before them, 
also thinking. He was before a result, and he won 1 - 
dered if it was good. 



He thought of the little boy. He saw him again 
as he had seen him on his first day as Teacher of Ba- 
langilang a little nino with a big round head sunk 
in between sharp shoulders, and big brown eyes that 
looked up into his own, half-scared, half -loving. He 
was a very little boy, Carnota, and his peculiar un 
certainty of movement made him still more babyish. 
His face was dirty and his nose needed a handker 
chief. His camisa was open in front, and the abdo 
men projected over the trouser-band in a soft roll of 
fat. Somehow that was what remained the most viv 
idly in the Maestro s memory the vision of that roll 
of baby-flesh that had suddenly filled his heart with 
unmanly softness. 

That was the day of the " my " and " your " 
struggle. 

" Do you see the hat? " the Maestro had asked. 

" Yiss, I ssee dde hhett," ataccattoed the class in 
answer. 

" My hat," said the Maestro, pointing to his cap ; 
" your hat," he said, pointing to the reduced version 
of a dilapidated nipa roof which served to cover Car- 



THE PREROGATIVE 283 

nota s head. "Now, [pointing to his own], do you 
see my hat ? " 

" Yiss, I sse my hett," answered the urchin con 
fidently. 

" No, no," said the Maestro. " This is my hat, not 
your hat ; it is my hat. Do you see my ha.t, my, my 
hat?" 

" Yiss, I see my, my hhett," answered Carnota, 
his eyes alight with sweet obedience. 

The Maestro paused and wiped his brow with his 
handkerchief. 

" Now, let us begin again," he went on with de 
termination in his> eye. " My hat, your hat ; your 
hat, my hat. This is my hat ; this is your hat. Now, 
show me your hat." 

" Your hat," said Carnota, pointing to his own, 

" No, no, that is not my hat ; that is your hat ; 
this is my hat, that is your hat. Now, show me my 
hat, my hat." 

" My hat, my hat ! " shouted Carnota, trium 
phantly pointing to the Maestro s. 

" Oh, Lordy," muttered the Maestro. He looked 
down half -angrily. Two brown eyes and an uplifted 
nose were turned up toward him in absolute, admiring 
confidence, and his annoyance flew away as by en 
chantment. But he could not bear to disillusion the 
child with further elucidation, so it was many days 



284 CAYBIGAN 

before Carnota ceased mixing his pronouns with 
calm unconcern. 



He forced his thoughts onward to later and less 
pleasant memories. 

First had come the cattle-pest, which had killed 
all the carabaos ; then the surra, which had killed all 
the horses; then the drought, just at palay-sowing, 
baking the ground so hard that the wooden plows 
made only derisive scratches. Now, it is true, the 
cholera was coming down the coast to restore the 
balance. But it should have come first. The palay 
crop had failed and there was nothing to eat. 

There had been little to eat for weeks, and the chil 
dren had begun to droop and wither. Every morning 
the Maestro cursed under his breath as he looked 
upon his waning audience. He could do little more 
than swear, for it would have taken a hundred times 
his salary to feed them all, and half of that went 
home religiously every month to a younger brother 
who was playing end on the Yale team. So, not 
being able to help them all, he had come to the de 
termination to feed none. Which did not prevent 
him from smuggling little Carnota into his house 
every morning, to send him forth again with grains 
of mush sticking to his nose. 

But this did not stop Carnota s head from sink- 



THE PREROGATIVE 285 

ing daily deeper between his shoulders nor the pecu 
liar uncertainty of movements to gain and gain on 
him till, sometimes, when walking, he would fall sud 
denly without cause, as if he had stepped into a 
hole. 

The attendance dropped and dropped, and the 
Maestro did not like to look at his reports. At last, 
one morning, Carnota himself failed to come to school. 
He did not come the next day, nor the next. The 
Maestro went to the tumble-down nipa shack by the 
river, He found the boy lying on a mat, on the 
bamboo floor. He could not move. 

" Yiss, I ssee dde hhett," he murmured when the 
Maestro asked him how he felt. 

The Maestro went to see the Post-Surgeon. But 
the Post-Surgeon had been in the Philippines four 
years. That is, his ideal of life now was to slop about 
his room all day in a kimona, smoking cigarette after 
cigarette and drinking whiskey-and-soda after whis- 
key-and-soda. To go out and see a sick child, espe 
cially when that sick child happened to have a brown 
skin, demanded an effort absolutely colossal for the 
corroded shreds of his moral strength. It took sev 
eral days of begging, remonstrance, appeal, almost 
threats to galvanize the dead fibres. At last the Doc 
tor slipped into a khaki and walked a hundred yards 
with the Maestro to the hut by the river. 



286 CAYBIGAN 

He examined the boy with a vague, returning ghost 
of professional interest. 

" Curvature of the spine," he said at length. 

" No cure? " asked the Maestro. 

" No, he ll die ; it may take several years." 

" Will he suffer? " 

The surgeon pointed to the child. The little body 
was vibrating in exquisite torture and cold beads of 
sweat were welling up on the stoical Malay face. 

That night the Maestro went to the Post Hospital 
and asked the steward for some morphine. 

" The dose is " the steward started to say, 

giving him the pellets. 

" I know, I know," the Maestro broke out hastily. 
" I ve used it often." 

He did not know the dose, but he did not want to 
know it. 

He went back to Carnota. He found him with his 
sharp knees pressed tight against his chin. 

He gave him several pellets. He did not know what 
was the proper dose, but he knew that this one was 
surely a highly improper one, and that is all he 
wanted to know. 

The little boy had gone to sleep with a deep, rest 
ful sigh. 

And now he was there, beneath the pink-and-blue 
rosettes. 



THE PREROGATIVE 287 

The man and the woman were becoming uneasy 
beneath the vacant-eyed scrutiny of the Maestro. 
Finally the father stooped, wound his arms about the 
coffin, and looked up questioningly into the Maestro s 
face. 

" Yes," nodded the Maestro, " I will go with you." 

The man heaved the coffin to his shoulder. The boy 
took the shovel, the woman the candle, and they 
started in a file. The Maestro followed and took the 
shovel from the boy. 

At the cemetery the father began to dig in the 
black ooze, but the Maestro stopped him. He led 
them to a little knoll close by beneath a giant mango 
tree. The soil was dry there, and, taking off his 
jacket, the Maestro toiled till a little hole was ready. 

They lowered the paper-frilled box into it, then 
they scraped back the earth. The father went into 
the jungle and came back with a cross made of two 
bamboo sticks. He planted the cross and the Maestro 
placed a few stones about it. 

Then they walked back to the pueblo. 

" Are you very sad? " asked the Maestro of the 
woman. 

" Oho," she answered, " muy triste." 

But she had not understood the question. She had 
had nine children, and eight were buried. As far back 
as she could remember Death had never let by a year 



288 CAYBIGAN 

without entering her hut. She had long ceased 
feeling. 

They came to the plaza. The old cavalry horse 
was still standing as before, his swollen legs spread 
in a wide base, his head dropped to the ground, his 
patient, bulging eyes red with blood. His rattling, 
dolorous breath, above the humming undertone of car 
rion-flies, was the only break in the heated silence. 

The Maestro looked at the animal. His chin 
dropped to his chest. 

He raised his head with a sharp movement and 
walked on. 

" I have done well," he said. 



XIV 
THE CONFLUENCE 

IT was a mistake from the first. The post was not 
at all for a woman, but Miss Terrill was unaware of 
that. She had just come to Bacolod via San Fran 
cisco, Manila, and Ilo-Ilo, by means, successively, of 
a big white army transport full of other ingenuous 
pedagogues ; a wheezy but impudent little Spanish 
steamer, which aggressively shoved its nose under 
every ripple of the inter-island seas ; a languid-sailed 
lorcha, loaded with pigs, dogs, and brownies, and fin 
ally a dizzy banca, which, perched upon the tip-foam 
of a curling comber, outriggers spread out like wings, 
landed her high up on a golden beach fresh, dainty, 
and composed like a coloured album picture. So, 
when out of the hat in which the Division Superin 
tendent was thoughtfully shuffling little slips of 
paper representing the towns of his terra incognita, 
she drew the name of Barang, she took it as much of 
a lark. Immediately she ran to a map, found the little 
black dot down in the southern part of Negros, and 
pronounced it " cute." She seemed prone, it must be 



290 CAYBIGAN 

said, to take things that way. She was a very young 
girl, so young that the officers of the Post raised their 
eyebrows and muttered under their breaths when they 
learned where she was going. A certain second lieu 
tenant, Saunders by name, and very fresh from West 
Point, went so far in fact as to offer to arrange it so 
that she should stay in Bacolod, at least as long as he 
were there, and afterwards any place where he 
might be. But she laughed sweetly at this proffer, 
and put it from her promptly and decisively, though 
her blue eyes, at the young fellow s sudden show of 
despair, shone a moment with a tenderness maternal 
he called it afterward that somehow left him with 
out bitterness and full of reverence. 

Here it must be explained for future understand 
ing that Rumour, a most vigorous Dame in the Philip 
pines, forthwith pounced upon this little incident and 
made off with it north and south. North the develop 
ment of the tale was rapid indeed; by the time it 
reached Escalante it dealt with the marriage of Miss 
Terrill to the fat old colonel of the Post. South, 
progress was more modest ; at Himamaylan and Can- 
talacan, towns nearest to Barang, it gave merely 
the news of the formal engagement of Miss Terrill 
to Lieutenant Saunders. Which freak of Dame Ru 
mour was precious indeed, in that it led to the com 
plications that make this story. 



THE CONFLUENCE 291 

The affair of her assignment continued to be 
much of a lark during the two weeks spent in Bacolod 
awaiting transportation. It was still a lark when the 
launch came and her trunk, in the loading, fell into 
the surf and the hombres in charge of it kept dry 
by the simple expedient of standing upon it. And 
the long, hard trip in the launch, laden to the gun 
wales with supplies for a military post still further 
than her own town, also was a lark, although at sun 
set the sky drew down in a black vault beneath which 
the little steamer seemed very small and very lone, 
and a wind arose which sent her plunging beneath 
tons of swirling water, and later, when the sea had 
calmed, the Tagal pilot got lost in the blinding 
downpour of rain and ran her gently into a perpen 
dicular wall from which they backed with a poignant 
feeling that it was only the superstructure backing 
thus away, that the bottom was still on the rock a 
feeling which proved baseless, but which kept 
them tense the night long, speaking in whispers and 
treading the deck a-tiptoe. The world was still joy 
ous when they crashed through a fish-corral and her 
chair, caught by one of the poles, whisked her instan 
taneously from bow to stern. But when they anchored 
beyond the edge of a long reef, and the sun rose glar 
ingly upon the shore, it must be admitted that her 
heroic little heart sank a bit. On the other side of 



292 CAYBIGAN 

the reef the waters ended in rippling purple shal 
lows ; and then there emerged a low bank of mud a 
livid yellow mud, flaccid and spongy, corroded with 
trickly streams that ran ink. At the upper end of 
this bank, flanked by four leafless leprous palms, there 
rose a long building, askew upon its rotting piles, 
with torn tin roof and shutters fallen outward. In 
front, very white against the gray fa9ade, the blue 
sky, the yellow mud, a pole sprang up with a faded 
American flag wrapped dejectedly about its top. Em 
bracing the bank, the two curved arms of a river came 
down in slow gurgitation of liquid ooze between 
screens of black-green vegetation. 

" This is Himamaylan, little mother," said the 
young lieutenant (he had fallen rather easily into the 
relation imposed by her). "This is Himamaylan. 
Wish it were your station; you ve twelve more miles 
overland." 

Now this thoughtful preference for Himamay 
lan (seeing what Himamaylan was) hardly prom 
ised for her own station. But she resolutely gulped 
down a certain tightening of the throat. " How 
jolly! " she said. 

Saunders looked at her rather long. " What a dar 
ling you are ! " he murmured. And the tone was 
hardly filial. 

Which caused her to hurry her preparations for 



THE CONFLUENCE 293 

landing. A native standing to his knees in the mud, 
after a good deal of vocalising from the lieutenant, 
listlessly strolled to a decrepit banca, bottom up in 
the shallows, flopped it over, baled it out with a coco 
nut shell, tied up the shaky outriggers with bejuca, 
and paddled leisurely, with an air of supreme indif 
ference, to the counter of the launch. " I ll go ahead 
and reconnoitre," said the lieutenant, springing into 
it ; " it s only six, and Wilson (the American teacher 
of the station) is probably not up yet." Miss Ter- 
rill saw him paddled to the shore, saw him land and 
go up the rude causeway. At each step the stone un 
der him sank as in a jelly and his foot whisked out 
in a spatter of mud ; at each step her heart followed 
the stone in its sinking movement. He disappeared 
into the great ruined building. She waited, it seemed 
a long time. The padron of the launch began a 
muttered discourse upon the sin of delay with an ebb 
ing tide. The sun rose higher, poured its accusing 
glare upon the squalor of the scene. The hombre in 
the banca pulled his wide-brimmed straw hat over his 
eyes, curled in the bow, and went to sleep. The mud 
began to crawl with little black crabs. " Cheer up ! " 
she said to herself in a crisp intonation, like the note 
of a bird. 

The Lieutenant reappeared at the head of a dozen 
villainous duplicates of the man in the banca. He 



294 CAYBIGAN 

paddled up. " All right," he said. " I have carga- 
dores. Wilson will arrange things to get you to your 
town. We ll land your stuff first; by that time he ll 
be presentable." 

One by one her boxes were thrown into the banca, 
paddled ashore, and carried to the door of the big 
building, the convento of the friars before the revo 
lution had driven them out. Then very ceremoniously, 
while the padron warned about further delay, Saun- 
ders handed her into the little canoe, like a princess 
into her gondola, out again on shore, and helped her 
over the first and worst part of the causeway. 

" I must go now," he said. " Wilson is waiting for 
you at the door and that launch is beginning to 
thump bottom. And please, once more; won t you 
come back to Bacolod? " 

She lifted her clear eyes to him and shook her head 
gently. " But you are a dear good boy," she said. 

To the subtle maternal tone of this, there was no 
replying. He bowed low over her hand and turned 
back. 

She started up right away. A great loneliness ex 
haled itself from the land. She did not look behind, 
but toiled stolidly toward the building. 

Tied to one of the verandah posts, a native pony, 
short-necked, compact, muscular, was pawing the 
ground. She stopped and looked at it, gaining from 



THE CONFLUENCE 295 

it the first comfort received of things since her ar 
rival. It was carefully groomed. The bay flanks 
shone like silk ; the mane, parted, fell fluffily on each 
side of the curved neck, the forelock dangling rogu 
ishly between the eyes. Beneath the polished saddle 
a red blanket added a touch of colour, almost of co 
quetry. The little animal stood there like a protest 
against the ambient discouragement. 

But a white-garbed man was at the door. " Good- 
morning, Mr. Wilson," she said gaily ; " what a nice 
horse you have there ! " 

" Good-morning, Miss Terrill," he answered, a 
gleam of approval in his pale, tired eyes ; " but that s 
not my horse. Mine well, it s like everything else 
about here " and in a heavy gesture he passed his 
hand over the musty landscape. 

She met the owner upstairs. 

He was a young man with slender waist and broad 
shoulders. Leather-gaitered, buttoned to the chin in 
khaki, a big Colt hanging to his loose belt, he gave 
Miss Terrill an impression of elastic efficiency very 
pleasing. But still more pleasing, she thought very 
secretly, were his eyes, golden-brown, soft and rather 
grave. He was horribly reticent though. He let Wil 
son do the talking ; leaning against the window-sill, 
he contented himself with short remarks dropped at 
long intervals like the sudden toning of a deep bell, 



296 CAYBIGAN 

and also with a consideration of her, serious and thor 
ough like the pondering of a problem. It was some 
thing entirely different from that to which she was 
accustomed. She was not vain ; but still, she had often 
seen herself, mirrored, as it were, in the eyes of men ; 
and she knew that in her short khaki skirt, her long, 
tawny leggins, her wide-collared blouse, her soft felt 
hat beneath which her hair fluffed, light and golden 
as sun-kissed vapour, she was well, picturesque at 
least. But here was a judgment that reserved itself, 
an admiration very much under check. His very 
position as he stood there, his glances downward up 
on her, gave him a subtle strategic superiority. It 
was rather irritating; and when he bowed and ex 
cused himself out of the room, her return salute was 
stiff with a stiffness foreign to her sweet nature. But 
immediately she found herself listening intently, ob 
livious of Mr. Wilson, listening to the steps spring 
ing down the stairs, stamping upon the flagging of 
the court, stopping beneath the verandah. There was 
a short silence, then a sudden clatter of hoofs. Un 
consciously she was up and at the window and he 
was gliding rapidly along the palm-lined road lead 
ing away from the sea, erect in the saddle, his waist 
giving flexibly to the pace of the pony. 

" Oh," she ejaculated; " is he going away? " 

" Yes," said Mr. Wilson ; " back to his station at 



THE CONFLUENCE 297 

Cantalacan. It s ten miles beyond yours. He ll ar 
range things for you at Barang." 

Then, strangely enough, the desolation of the sur 
rounding landscape brusquely whelmed her again. 
She felt very much alone with this Mr. Wilson, 
with his stoop of the shoulders, his weary eyes, his 
attitude of profound lassitude. 

" I must start off for my station," she said de 
cidedly. 

n 

Miss Terrill leaned at the window of her new home, 
looking out into the dark of the plaza. She had put 
out the lamp, the room behind her also was dark, and 
between these two obscurities she felt rather lone. 
At intervals alarmingly frequent her rallying cry, 
" cheer up," chirped in the heated silence ; but diffi 
cult it was for the spirit to obey the command of the 
lips. She had gone through a great deal of late not 
so much in actual hardship ; she could bear that buoy 
antly ; but little by little the oppression of the Land 
had heaped upon her and she felt a very little girl 
indeed. Something akin to self -compassion filled her 
being as she dwelled over the events of the past days : 
the sudden and thorough inefficiency of Mr. Wilson 
when it came to arranging for her departure ; the 
long enervating wait for mythical carts, for carabaos 



298 CAYBIGAN 

that did noc come ; then, after she had taken hold of 
things and the evasive Presidente, suddenly alacri- 
tous at the stamp of her foot, like a magician pro 
duced animals and vehicles by the dozen, the long 
ride to her station the bumping and creaking of the 
ox-cart; the mud, the fearful bottomless mud; the 
miring in the rice lands, beneath the leaden sun, in 
the pestilential swamp; the miles paced slow as the 
crawl of an hour-hand while time slid by and the day 
died in gloomy splendour. And then the entry into 
the pueblo at midnight, amid the howl of dogs, the 
croak of frogs, the shrill concert of katydids ; the 
dinner at the Presidente s, with this people of alien 
race, of dark skins, of incomprehensible tongue; the 
appalling lack of comfort, of cleanliness and then 
the night : she would never forget it, that first night 
in Barang. Her cot had been placed in a big bare 
room. Through the torn roof she could see a lone star. 
There was rice stored in the corner of the room, and 
giant rats thundered over the loose planking, squealed 
and fought, while outside in the scum of the ditches 
the beasts of humidity shrilled in rasping clamour. 
Then the arising in the morning, weary to death, 
shrinking in fear at the thought of the first survey, 
in the inexorable sunlight, of the place which was to 
be her abode for twelve long months at least; and 
that first look the wide, grass-dishevelled plaza with 



THE CONFLUENCE 299 

the carabaos wallowing in the mud holes, the ponies 
dying of surra at their pickets, the leprous-walled, 
crumbling church across, the thousand leaning, rot 
ting nipa shacks, the musty mountains steaming in 
the east. 

Afterward she had had a pleasant surprise. A 
house had been engaged for her, the Presidente an 
nounced, by Don Francisco. She went right away to 
view it. It stood facing the plaza, pointed-roofed, 
post-elevated, between shimmering bananas, a new 
nipa hut, clean and strong. The ground beneath was 
white with powdered lime, a reassuring carbolicky 
odour hovered about and she was pleased by the 
chance for picturesque decoration offered by the rich, 
nut-brown nipa of the interior. But while she stood 
in the centre of the sala, planning, a muchacho in 
immaculate camisa stood before her. " Don Fran 
cisco has sent me to you ; I am to be your servant," 
he said in the precise English of one carefully in 
structed. He proved a treasure, that boy. Then, 
pieces of furniture began to arrive one by one. She 
did not understand at first, but the owners, salaam 
ing behind their sweating cargadores, explained that 
they were to be hers during her stay. She offered 
money ; they refused. Don Francisco had asked them 
to do this; they were always glad to obey Don 
Francisco. 



300 CAYBIGAN 

This was the third time in as many minutes that 
she had heard that name. When she was alone with 
Vincente, the new muchacho, she asked, " Who is your 
master? " 

" You are to be my master," he answered in the 
tone of one who knows well his lesson. 

" But who was your master ; who sent you? " 

" Don Francisco," he said. 

" But who is Don Francisco? " 

" Don Francisco ; the Maestro," he answered, evi 
dently astonished at her obtuse ignorance. 

But she divined now and her cheeks flushed. It was 
the Maestro of Cantalacan. Wilson had introduced 
him as Mr. Tillman. " Don Francisco " was much 
better, she reflected. 

She had set briskly to work at her installation. She 
accepted a few pieces of the proffered furniture 
quaint old hand-carved things of incredibly heavy 
woods ; she performed wonders with boxes and chintz ; 
Isio mats enlivened the meerschaum of walls and ceil 
ing, the few pictures and flags left of her college 
days were hung; red narra boards tied with golden 
abaca along the walls made a place for her books ; a 
big square severe table, with her blotters, pads, ink 
stands, pens, and pencils upon it, took an aspect in 
viting of studious hours. But when she rested and 
looked about her for the subtle feeling of coziness 



THE CONFLUENCE 301 

and warmth which usually follows such toil, as it 
must to the birds who have built their nest, she found 
with consternation that it was not there the feeling 
of intimacy, of home, was not there. She changed the 
petates, she moved the pictures, she hung orchids at 
the windows, arranged a panoply of native hats and 
spears over the door, fringed the grass-cloth por 
tieres. But it was useless. The feeling would not 
come. And she realised that it would never come; 
that all these efforts were puerilities before the great 
crushing assertion of the land the grass-dishevelled 
plaza, the ruined church, glistening in the white sun, 
the palms, the steaming mountain, the brown popu 
lations ; that before this tranquil, brooding, all-pow 
erful Presence, all her little defenses of art and 
adornment shrivelled, dried into dust as cardboard 
toys in a furnace. It was like hiding behind leaves 
from God. 

She turned to her work with an enfevered zeal. She 
found a tumble-down nipa shed where some twenty 
half-naked, half-starved, miserable little beings, 
herded every morning by the municipal police, gath 
ered beneath the stick of a slovenly, dull-eyed man, 
with a gibberish of English the native teacher ap 
pointed temporarily by the military government. 
The school supplies had not come yet ; there were no 
charts, no books, no slates, no paper, no pencils. The 



302 CAYBIGAN 

children squatted on the damp earth, crushed and 
apathetic. 

" Well, I can at least love them," she said to her 
self. 

It was easy for her to love children. She loved 
everything that was small babies, kittens, puppies, 
birds ; and flowers : she called them baby -flowers 
when they were satisfyingly little. She taught the 
children trifles that did not amount to much; but 
beneath the tenderness of her presence these starved 
plants began to put forth blossoms. The dark eyes 
opened in wonder, softened in reverence. One day 
one of the little girls took her hand going home from 
school; and after that she was always followed by a 
dozen demure little maids that took her hand a few 
steps in turn. She taught the class a song, and since 
there was not much to do, in the dearth of what was 
needed, they often sang, in their low, plaintive notes, 
their eyes fixed upon her in mute adoration. 

They called her Mathilda, and she thought it very 
sweet. 

But still the Presence weighed upon her with its 
crushing, tranquil malevolence, its external signs the 
sun, white and ghastly, the mountains, steaming in 
mustiness, the fronds of palms, heavy, motionless, 
metallic. She felt the weight of it as of some physi 
cal thing there upon her breast ; beneath it her sleep 



THE CONFLUENCE 303 

grew torpid, her gestures languid, her eyelids 
drooped heavy upon the unfading blue beneath. 

This day the obsession had been more poignant 
than ever. For in the morning she had found the 
schoolhouse deserted. The cosecha had begun, and 
the children had all wandered off early to a big haci 
enda ten miles off to pick rice. The hours had 
dragged, long as death, empty as Infinity. And now 
she leaned, a little limply, at her window, between the 
dark behind and the dark before. " Cheer up," she 
chirped valiantly, but her heart would not answer. 

Then, far down the road, consoling, familiar, she 
heard the soft pit-a-pat of hoofs. The sound neared, 
swelled, drummed in a crescendo that seemed to beat 
in her heart. Detaching itself suddenly from the 
shadow, as if of its tenuous substance, there ap 
peared the vague form of a man in the saddle, pliant- 
waisted, broad-shouldered. A singular panic pos 
sessed her ; she drew aside behind the wall and peered, 
her hands upon her breast. With a rattle of stone 
and a spark the horse stopped there in the darkness 
in front. The shadowy rider seemed to turn in the 
saddle; she felt his eyes scrutinising the darkened 
fa9ade, the lightless windows. She panted. The 
horse champed resoundingly ; her lips parted as if to 
speak. 

Then, very distinct in the silence, she heard the 



304 CAYBIGAN 

decided whirr of a quirt. The form in the saddle bent 
forward; the horse rose in a jump. For a second the 
shadow of horse and man rose and fell, then it 
plunged into the darkness of which it seemed a part. 
The drumming of hoofs sounded down the road, far 
ther, fainter, became a mere vibration, ceased. 

But she stood there listening long after sound had 
died. And when she moved off toward her little cot, 
it was very wearily, and upon it she collapsed very 
suddenly. 

She knew what was the matter with her now. She 
was lonely ; God, how lonely ! 



m 

And thus as a shadow, flitting, mysterious, almost 
uncorporeal, she was to know him for a long time. 
It might be during the day, at school; her eyes, 
straying out of the open door, saw him cross the 
plaza to the rapid pace of his bay pony, erect be 
neath the leaden downpour of heat, his sombrero firm 
down upon his eyes, his waist giving pliantly to the 
swing of the saddle. He slid off with what seemed to 
her singular speed, like a being unreal, elusive, leg 
endary ; he was across the plaza ere her eyes were 
fairly fixed upon him, was disappearing along the 
palm-lined road into the wilderness, into the bosom 



THE CONFLUENCE 305 

of the mountain, seeming to await him, dark, brood 
ing, inscrutable. And when the red dot of the saddle- 
blanket had lost itself into the venomous green of the 
distance, she would turn, a little listlessly, to her 
class. 

" Come, children, we will sing," she would say. 

And they sang, in their low, weird voices, their 
plaintive modification of some old home song. " How 
sadly they sing," she murmured ; " how sad it 
all is." 

Or it would be at night when, standing^ at her 
darkened window, she heard the sound of hoofs re 
verberated in her heart, and he passed, a mere shadow, 
immediately swallowed in the gloom. Sometimes she 
remained at the window, peering into the darkness ; 
at other times she withdrew in unreasoning timidity 
into the farther depths of the sala, and stood there, 
panting, till the hoof-beats had sunk into silence. 
For a while, with a temerity that seemed to her im 
mense, she left her lamp lighted behind her; but 
when finally he did come, at the sight of the luminous 
circle upon the road he circled wide into the night. 
She could divine him there, in the profundity of 
gloom ; it seemed to her that he had dismounted, that 
he stood long, looking toward her. She trembled 
with excitement, keenly aware of her conspicuous- 
ness in the light. Then the horse rustled softly 



306 CAYBIGAN 

through the high cogon, struck the road again below 
the house, galloped off in sudden clatter. 

These brusque apparitions left her very lonely. 

One day, though, she caught him. Her watch had 
run down and as she crossed the plaza to the school- 
house, she was aware by the position of the sun that 
she was much ahead of the correct time. There was 
little about her lone home, however, to call her back; 
so she pushed on, a little pale at the thought of the 
long day ahead. Then as she was almost at the door, 
she started. A bay pony was before her, stamping 
but obedient to the long reins dropped Western 
fashion to the ground. Its flanks shone like silk, the 
long mane fell on both sides of the short curved neck, 
the forelock dangled roguishly over the eyes. A red 
blanket flamed beneath the saddle. 

For a minute she stood still, startled like an elf, 
her breath coming swift between her parted lips, 
poised in panicky indecision. Then with a lithe reso 
lute movement she stepped within. 

He was standing in the centre of the room, exam 
ining with critical eye the torn roof, the sagging 
walls, the earthen floor. When he had become aware 
of her presence he merely took off his hat in silent 
greeting that held subtle homage. His eyes passed 
gravely over her. He should have been pleased in 
deed with the tremulous colour of her cheek, the radi- 



THE CONFLUENCE 307 

ance of her glance. She wore a simple dress of blue 
linen with a sailor-blouse whose wide turned-down 
collar left a triangle of palpitating whiteness below 
the throat ; she was hatless, and her hair lay upon her 
head with incredible lightness, like a golden vapour. 
A curl of it fell over her eyes, and she drew it back 
slowly in a graceful movement of her arm, bare to 
the elbow. But even as she gazed up at him, the sus 
picion of tenderness in his eye went out abruptly; a 
stubborn reservation lowered over them like a curtain. 

" You are early," he said. 

" Yes," she answered, and the word came like a 
sigh. She sat down, a little wearily, upon the only 
chair. " Yes," she repeated ; " it s going to be a long 
day." 

He scanned her with rapid, questioning concern ; 
but immediately there returned the rigid reserve that 
baffled her. 

" I must go," he said decidedly. " I ve a new bar 
rio school up there in the bosque." 

That was all. He strode across the room to the 
door, gathered up the reins, mounted and was off, 
leaving her alone in the big empty shed. After a 
while she looked up. Far toward the hills a little red 
spot was disappearing. 

The following day the municipal treasurer came 
to her and told her what she should have known be- 



308 CAYBIGAN 

fore that the taxes had been collected, and that 
there were some thousand pesos disponible for the 
pueblo school. So she saw, with an interest that made 
the days sweeter, the roof rethatched, the walls bol 
stered, a floor of bamboo being laid, and the Chino 
carpenter slowly evolving with his rough tools a 
dozen rude benches. A few days later an oldish little 
mild-eyed man presented himself to her. He told her 
that he had been one of Don Francisco s assistants, 
and was now to be hers. 

This new proof of lofty and patronising care ex 
asperated her. She sent the man back with a message 
declaring that she needed no assistant. 

Two weeks later he was again before her with a 
note. With a vague feeling of disappointment she 
saw that it was typewritten. It said: 

" The Provincial Superintendent has transferred 
Abada from my town to yours. I cannot and you 
must not disregard the order." 

Her cheeks flamed a little when she reflected that 
the two weeks passed between the two offers were just 
time enough for the exchange of correspondence be 
tween Cantalacan and Bacolod. 

But she soon found Abada invaluable. He had evi 
dently been subjected to a rigid training; naturally 
he took upon himself all the smaller troublesome de 
tails of her work. Also he knew his own people thor- 



THE CONFLUENCE 309 

oughly and was precious in lifting for her the uni 
form veil of stolidity. And he had ingenuity. He 
propounded a plan by which the children came 
washed to school; he interested the parents in the 
clothing of their offspring, so that now the room 
rustled with starch. The rivalry of the town fac 
tions he diverted adroitly into a race for the favour 
of the Maestra. 

After a while, though, she noticed that Abada s 
brilliant suggestions came always on Monday morn 
ings ; also that on Sundays the little mild man, a 
stick in hand, wended his way across the plaza and 
then down the road leading to Cantalacan. This 
vexed her, and the next propositions of her assistant 
were ignominiously rejected. That morning she 
mapped out her own course. She planted vines that 
with tropical vigour forthwith began to climb the 
bare walls. At the windows she hung wonderful or 
chids. She draped two American flags in flaming 
panoply behind her desk, improvised of dry goods 
boxes. The supplies had come from Bacolod (very 
strangely, in ox-carts belonging to the municipality 
of Cantalacan). The maps upon the walls, the black 
boards and charts upon their tripods, the shelves of 
books gave to the place an air of study and quiet. 
Thanks to Abada s constant visits to parents, his 
free use (she did not know that) of Don Francisco s 



310 CAYBIGAN 

name, the attendance was rising by leaps and bounds ; 
the schoolhouse was full of gentle brown goblins. 
Her soul was sweet with the feeling of being loved. 

And yet she could not shake the old tyranny. An 
emptiness was within her; an emptiness it was, and 
yet it weighed like lead. Above, about her, the alien, 
incomprehensible Land flamed, fierce, inimical. She 
dreamed of grassy meadows beneath apple trees ; 
through the flowering branches voices passed, voices 
of her own kin and race, sympathetic and intimate. 

One day she had an idea that filled her with wild 
joy. She would give a dinner and invite Mr. Wilson 
and Mr. Tillman. 

The invitations were sent and accepted. On Sat 
urday she went to the market. She passed amid the 
squatting women like a humming bird, flitting hither 
and thither, stopping a moment to sip here or there, 
then whirring off again with her store. And when she 
returned, her tawny parasol tilted back upon her 
shoulder in an attitude a little weary, her two boys 
behind her bore baskets filled with wonderful and col 
oured things. She overhauled her stores and set to 
work immediately. A man she sent down to the sea to 
fish for her a lapo-lapo. And all day she measured 
and mixed and beat and prepared for the morrow. 
She was up with the sun the next day, and all morn 
ing she flitted about, humming like a bee building its 



THE CONFLUENCE 311 

honey-home, a white apron pinned to her dress, her 
face flushed, her hands floury. At noon Wilson came 
in. She greeted him joyously, and then leaving him 
with her latest magazine, whirred off again to some 
mysterious final crisis in the kitchen. 

At one o clock a tao came with a note. Mr. Tillman 
was very sorry, but something unexpected and im 
perative had called him away. He would not be 
present. 

Her hands dropped to her sides; a great disap 
pointment filled her soul. 

She forgot it partly in the performance of her du< 
ties as hostess. Abada took the place set for the miss 
ing one. Wilson lost his eternal discouragement and 
livened in a way that made her glad. Late in the 
afternoon he left. 

" Lor die, what a little wife she ll make," he mur 
mured to himself, riding in the gloaming. " And that 
fool Saunders, what s the matter with him, anyway, 
leaving her down there so long!" 

From which it would appear that Dame Rumour 
had not found it imperative to correct her first erro 
neous report. 

As for Miss Terrill, her brave " cheer up " checked 
her just as she was on the point of idiotically weep 
ing over the ruins of a splendid chocolate cake. 



312 CAYBIGAN 

IV 

The rams began. Seated at her window she would 
hear a roaring tattoo in the grove of abaca palms to 
the south. The noise neared, rose, thundered. Long, 
lithe coconuts began an inexplicable bending to and 
fro, their tops circling in trembling descent almost 
to earth, then swinging back to the spring of the 
bow-tense trunks in a movement exaggerated and 
violent like that of some stage tempest. Out of the 
grove, beaten, trampled down, there advanced into 
the open a black wall of rain, perpendicular from 
earth to sky. Ahead of it, dust, twigs, rubbish sud 
denly ascended to heaven in rotary spirals ; trees were 
flayed of their leaves, roofs blew up like gigantic 
bats. Then her own house, strongly built, shook as 
with earthquake ; the thatch of the roof sprang vert 
ical, like hair that stiffens with fear, and between the 
interstices she saw the muddy sky stream by. A pow 
der of debris, of dry rot, snowed down upon the table, 
the books, the chairs ; little lizards, unperched, struck 
the floor with a squeak like that of a mechanical doll, 
remained as dead for long minutes, then scampered 
across the room and up the walls again ; great black 
spiders, centipedes, scorpions fell; sometimes a large 
rat. Then the nipa clicked back to position as a box 
is shut ; a breathless silence, a heavy immobility petri- 



THE CONFLUENCE 313 

fied the world. There came three or four detached, 
resounding raps upon the roof, and suddenly a furi 
ous, roaring beating as of stones coming down, great 
stones, chuted in thousands, in millions and the 
church, the plaza, the mountain, the whole Land dis 
appeared in a yellow swirl of waters. It rained thus 
for hours, for days, for weeks. The leaden vault of 
the sky seemed irreparably cracked, letting down the 
liquid hoardings of ages. It rained, in drops big like 
eggs, falling so swiftly that they welded sky to earth 
as with iron bars ; it rained, heavily, monotonously, 
mournfully. The first wild, triumphant burst over, 
the elements seemed to have settled down to their task 
with a quiet, brooding patience, an immense persist 
ence of unalterable purpose. It seemed that it would 
rain thus for years, for ages, for inconceivable aeons. 
The world was rain, the future was rain; she lived 
in a chaos of water. The whole earth softened, dis 
solved; it rolled through eternity, a silent, viscous 
ball of ooze spattering the stars. Inside her hut a 
musty leprosy crept over things ; her clothes rotted 
in her trunk, mushrooms sprang overnight upon her 
books ; her very soul, it seemed to her, disintegrated 
before this malevolent persistence of elemental pur 
pose. A black mournfulness was over her like a veil. 
She yet saw him sometimes. Out of the obscure 
chaos he emerged, a vague shadow; behind the vit- 



31 4 CAYBIGAN 

rious sheet of waters he passed, wrapped in a great 
cape, erect, immovable upon the horse, struggling 
up to its knees in mud, the heavy flaps of his som 
brero down over his face, leaving to view but the 
hatchet-carved chin. She knew now where he had 
been that Sunday. A discharged negro soldier had 
been terrorising a little barrio to the south. The 
Maestro had ridden there and going directly to the 
bully, had disarmed him and ordered him out of 
the district. 

And now, up in the hills, but daily nearer to the 
coast towns, a band of tulisanes were committing 
depredations. Barrios were burned ; principales sus 
pected of giving information to the authorities were 
tortured. And it was said that a negro renegade 
was the leader of the band. 

He was present to her in ways other than these 
shadowy apparitions. One day men had placed upon 
her nipa roof a sheeting of zinc; she found later 
that the material came from the ruined convento of 
Cantalacan. She felt about her a fostering care, 
immense, enveloping like the Rains, mysterious, im 
palpable like them. But it was impersonal, far, cold 
like the Justice of God. It left her very lonely. 

One morning at sun-up he rode into the pueblo at 
the head of a dozen men. By their uniforms, their 
rusty Remingtons, she knew them as the municipal 



THE CONFLUENCE 315 

police of Cantalacan. For a week there had been a 
respite of the rains and the roads were fairly firm; 
but the outfit came in mud-crusted to the eyes, the 
horses staggering and dripping foam. They clattered 
rapidly past the house and stopped before the Casa 
Popular. The Maestro dismounted, but she noticed 
that before he allowed the others to do so, he sent a 
man ahead to the outskirts of the pueblo on the side 
opposite to that by which they had come ; she could 
see him, sharply delineated against the rising sun, 
scanning the horizon. The Maestro sprang up the 
bamboo steps of the municipal house ; his voice rang 
sharp and incisive. There was a running to and fro 
of muchachos, and man after man, the town police 
assembled. She had noted before their slovenliness, 
but now, as they mingled with the men of Cantalacan, 
this appeared emphasised. There was something 
brisk and efficient about everything that came from 
Cantalacan, it seemed. The Maestro reappeared and 
mounted. He placed half of his men in the van, the 
other half in the rear, the Barang contingent being 
framed between, and putting himself at the head 
started out of the pueblo by the road opposite to 
that by which he had come in. She saw him for a 
while, pliant in the saddle, leaning forward, pressing 
the pace, the rest of the troop pellmell after him, 
rising and falling one after the other, their broad 



316 CAYBIGAN 

hats flapping. Suddenly he seemed to go through 
the crust of the earth; man after man disappeared 
after him; the last laggard dropped out of sight. 
They were crossing the river. They reappeared, toil 
ing slowly up the farther bank, bunched for a mo 
ment, then vanished between the palms. 

Toward evening she saw them return. He was not 
riding in front. But between the horses, formed in 
hollow square, something limp swung from side to 
side a litter borne by four men. 

v 

What followed came back to her afterward with 
strange blending always of vague unreality and glar 
ing vividness. 

Very calmly she went down to the Casa Popular, 
before which the calvacade was stopping. On the 
ground she saw the litter with its lithe form silhou 
etted beneath the blanket. " He is dead," she said 
to herself with weird certainty. All about her, men 
were talking excitedly ; she did not hear a word, and 
yet, later, all that they said came back to her, com 
plete to every inflection. 

The Maestro had received secret information of an 
attack planned by Carr, the negro renegade, upon 
Barang; hence the move of the morning. The two 
parties had met upon the road; both had taken to 



THE CONFLUENCE 317 

the ditch and had peppered away at each other for 
a while. Then the Maestro, who had kept on his 
horse to hold his men better in hand, had been struck 
by a chance bullet; the pony, zipped by the same 
fire, had thrown him. But as, seizing the opportunity, 
Carr charged forward with a yell of triumph, the 
prostrate man, raising himself on his elbow with a 
last effort, had shot him through the head with his 
revolver. This sudden reverse had scattered the out 
laws. 

She did not hear this ; it came back to her later. 
She stood very still ; and her heart, with each solemn 
beat, said, " He is dead." 

A desire came to her to see him once more. She 
moved to the litter. She lowered the blanket. Upon 
the very white forehead the black hair was matted ; 
matted with the toil done for her, in her defense. 
She separated the curls between her fingers, smooth 
ing them in long caressing movements. And then she 
saw stirring between the pale lips the suspicion of 
a breath. 

Instantly the dreamy lethargy that enshrouded her 
dropped like a cloak ; and she was athrill with a fierce 
desire for action. " To my home, quick, quick ! " 
she cried to the men. They took up the litter and 
started toward the house. But they were inconceiv 
ably slow. They jostled him. She pushed one of the 



318 CAYBIGAN 

carriers aside and herself took a pole. Finally he 
lay upon her little cot. 

She tore open the khaki blouse with its spot of 
rust above the heart. The blue shirt beneath was 
soggy and dripping. With her scissors she cut off 
both garments, then washed the bared flesh. But 
there was something which would not wash off a 
little bluish spot from which, constantly reform 
ing, red lines radiated like the cracks of a broken 
pane. 

He opened his eyes just then; they glared wild 
for a moment, settled upon her, softened, then with 
a sharp intake of breath he was unconscious again. 
She noticed that his right shoulder had a strange, 
caved-in appearance. She felt the joint lightly. The 
shoulder was dislocated. 

Her lips tightened. That first must be set, for 
from it he suffered. She had heard of it as something 
very difficult. She was a girl, weak, lone, ignorant, 
and yet it must be done. 

She called Vincente and together they tried to 
draw the arm back into its socket. It was sickening 
work. At every effort the strong shoulder muscles 
contracted in reflex resistance, and they were help 
less as babes. 

She desisted and thought, with an exasperated 
concentration of all her faculties. A snatch of chance 



THE CONFLUENCE 319 

knowledge came back to her. In her trunk she had 
a little medicine chest given to her by loving friends 
when she had started on her long voyage. She had 
laughed at the time; she pounced upon it now like 
a wild animal upon food. She looked into it in 
anguished questioning. Yes, there it was a phial 
labeled chloroform. 

She sent Vincente out for Benito. He was a 
manangete, and very strong. He came, stood upon 
his immense bare feet before her, his straw hat in 
his hand, and she looked with thankfulness upon the 
bull-like neck, at the arms, bulging in ridges beneath 
the camisa. Once she had cared for his sick baby- 
girl, and now he adored her. 

They moved the cot against three of the roof- 
sustaining posts and fastened it tight to them. They 
strapped the unconscious man to the cot. 

The crucial moment came now. Right here she 
might murder him with criminal ignorance. She ac 
cepted the hazard. 

She uncorked the little bottle, spilled some of its 
contents upon a wad of cotton, and applied this to 
the pinched nostrils. He struggled; his left arm 
tugged at the strap holding it till the muscles were 
tense to breaking. She persisted and suddenly his 
effort collapsed; with a shuddering sigh his whole 
body relaxed liquidly. 



320 CAYBIGAN 

She made use of Benito now. At her command he 
took between his iron fingers the wounded man s 
wrist. She placed her soft hands upon the tao s 
corded arms. He tugged; she directed. From her 
tapering fingers there flowed into the stolid muscle 
of the machine-man a subtle fluid of tender intelli 
gence. In the commonness of their work they became 
as one: he the body, she the soul. The chloroform 
had had its effect ; the shoulder muscle loosened, 
elastic, to the steady pull. The arm lengthened, al 
most dismeasurably. She panted. Beneath the sug 
gestion of her fingers Benito gave a sudden sharp 
movement up and to the left. There was a resounding 
click and then Benito, Vincente, the man in the cot, 
the whole room floated slowly upward, leaving her in 
a lone black hole. 

But from this weakness she emerged to the urgent 
call of what there was yet to do. She wrapped tape 
about both shoulders to keep the set member in place. 
Then she turned to the wound. 

She saw with relief that the stagnant red lake 
which had covered it at first had not returned. But 
there was still the little blue hole with it s radiation 
as of cracked glass. She fingered it lightly. In there 
was a bullet, and it must be gotten out. 

Pale, with eyes closed, she gently inserted her little 
finger into the warm flesh. It was as if she were dig- 



THE CONFLUENCE 

ging into her own heart. After a while she felt a 
hard, rough-edged object. She gasped in a strange 
mingling of physical horror and spiritual ecstasy. 
The bullet had sunk a bare inch. 

She looked through the chest, but there was nothing 
for the necessary extraction. She tried the scissors ; 
they slipped and revolved about the leaden slug with 
out seizing it. She wrapped twine thick about the 
blades. This time they caught. There was a mo 
mentary resistance; she tugged firmly, it seemed at 
the very core of her being. Slowly at first, then faster, 
the distorted bit of lead slid through the flesh, then 
popped out and rolled upon the floor. A little ruby 
foam came to the surface of the wound. 

The whole world floated away gently, except a 
Voice, a thundering, all-filling Voice ; " Senora, 
Senora," it crashed and reverberated through the 
infinity of Time and Space. It fell gradually into a 
call, gentle but insistent, that she must obey ; and she 
opened her eyes upon the face of Vincente, yellow 
with fear ; and it was he that was calling " Senora, 
Senora." 

She sprang to her feet at the command of her 
purpose. From the torn wound, little red drops were 
arising like bubbles one by one the drops of his 
life. She dressed the wound carefully. A great 
weariness fell about her like a pall; she sat down at 



322 CAYBIGAN 

the head of the bed. Something soft and delicious 
entered her soul. 

She remained there till dawn, a sweet content 
singing at her heart. The oppression of Things that 
had crushed her for so many months had lifted ; 
her being distended in ecstatic repose. He slept, still 
in the torpor of exhaustion, calm like a statue; 
she watched him, watched the white forehead with 
the black curls damp upon it, the eyes, closed in the 
shadow of the long lashes ; watched this helplessness 
with a gentle feeling of maternal possession. His 
features were relaxed in lassitude ; the corners of the 
mouth drew down slightly, in an expression a little 
tremulous, as that of a child who has cried and is not 
yet quite consoled. A great tenderness dissolved her 
being. 

Toward morning, however, his cheeks flushed dull 
red and he began to toss restlessly upon the narrow 
couch. She placed her hand upon his forehead and 
found it burning. She redressed the wound, placed 
fresh bandages about the shoulder ; but the fever 
did not abate. All day she fought it, handicapped 
by her poverty of means. And then as the sun had set 
in black-and-blood-portent and the night fell like a 
great velvet cloak from the sky, Fear crept into the 
little hut; and all night as she sat there by the cot, 
it was at her elbow, spectral, dilated-eyed, and cold. 



THE CONFLUENCE 323 

He tossed and tossed in convulsive starts till the 
cane bed creaked and cried. He muttered incessantly, 
words without end, rapid as the tick of a telegraphic 
receiver. At times she could understand. 

" The silence ! " he would say ; " the silence! " 

He stopped a moment, his brows frowned, then 
the words came again, slow, as in painful mental 
analysis. " Their ways are different," he said; " their 
language incomprehensible. It is silence God, what 
silence ! " 

He rose to a sitting posture and listened long, in 
tently. " Nothing," he said, falling back, discour 
aged ; " silence," he whispered. 

Then, " And the mountain, the musty mountain, 
how it weighs ! " 

He was quiet for a long while. Then he spoke one 
word. 

" Lone " and the word drawled like a plaint. 

A great wonder possessed her. So he also had felt 
what she had felt, had suffered what she had suffered. 
Through the armour of efficiency, of alertness, had 
penetrated the oppression of the Land. He, the 
strong, the vigorous, the self-reliant, had suffered 
as she, the weak, lonely girl. She passed her hand 
softly over his hot forehead; she bent down in an 
impulse to kiss. But he was talking again, one 
sentence repeated in swinging sing-song. 



CAYBIGAN 

" Saunders, Saunders, may he make her happy ; 
Saunders, Saunders, may he make her happy." He 
fell into a rhythmic beat, like the marching cadence 
of a drum. " Saunders, Saunders, may he make her 
happy," he repeated, over and over again, in cease 
less sequence. 

She drew back, afraid. Saunders that was the 
young lieutenant at Bacolod. But who was the 
mysterious " Her " that out of the mechanical rise 
and fall of the sentence rose distinct in an empha 
sis of wistful tenderness a sense of profanation 
whelmed her; she should not listen to that. 

She left the room and went below to rouse Vin- 
cente. But he was in the death-like stupor that is 
the sleep of the native. She could not wake him, make 
him understand what she wanted that he should 
watch over his master. She had to go back, and as 
she re-entered the room he was still murmuring, but 
with slowing cadence, like a clock that runs down : 
" Saunders, Saunders, may he make her happy." 

When finally the thing had died upon his lips, he 
was quiet a long time, and she remained there, listen 
ing to the beat of her own heart. The dawn was 
entering cracks and windows in grayish humid flow. 
She shivered a little; a great discouragement dis 
solved her strength. She moved to the window and 
looked out upon the misty landscape. After a while 



THE CONFLUENCE 325 

the sun appeared, a red ball of fire on the top cone 
of Canlaon. It rose, freed itself of the enveloping 
net of vapour, shone down, white, clear, inexorable ; 
the mountain slopes began to steam. 

A movement behind her made her turn. 

He had risen and was sitting upright, his free 
arm raised high toward heaven, and in impassioned 
accents he was declaiming : 

" Star of my Life," he cried ; " Star of my Life, 
cold in the black sky, far, ah, how far! Star of my 
Life, in spite of all, in spite of thee, thou art my 
Star, my Star ! " 

He sank back as if broken with the effort. She 
placed her hand upon his brow and beneath it she 
felt the heat slowly recede; soon he was sleeping 
peacefully like a child. 

" Star of my Life ! " she murmured wonderingly. 



She was very happy that day. He slept heavily, 
broken with fatigue and loss of blood; she hovered 
about him like a butterfly, finding a thousand little 
precious things to do. In the afternoon she decided 
that she must rest. She had improvised with screens 
a room in the sala ; but she slept only in snatches. 
She woke often with a delicious feeling of duty to 



326 CAYBIGAN 

perform; and then she would glide to the door and 
from the sill watched him sleeping calmly within. 
She was no longer lonely. All night he slept thus; 
then, as in the morning she flitted about the room 
touching things here and there, suddenly she knew 
that he had awakened. She did not turn toward him, 
but she could feel his eyes, softly luminous, following 
her gravely. She slid out of the room. He had not 
spoken. 

But outside the world was dull. She returned. As 
she entered, the eyes were still on the door, wistful; 
but immediately, like a veil there came over them the 
old stubborn reserve. 

" I must go," he said. " I suppose ,1 got laid up 
in that fool fracas over there. You ve been very good 
to me. I must go." 

He tried to raise himself; but a gray pallour 
sprang to his face. " Sh-sh-sh," she hissed gently. 
" You must be a good little boy and do as I say. You 
must not move." 

A great weariness was upon him; his bones were 
as water ; and beneath the soft " sh-sh-sh " this 
weakness became a dreamy and very pleasant feeling 
indeed. " I ll be a good boy," he murmured obedi 
ently. Suddenly she realised that he was very young 
after all ; which gave her a very maternal tone as 
she said, " Drink this ; it will give you strength." 



THE CONFLUENCE 327 

The days that followed had a taste of honey. A 
dreamy passiveness held him in its thrall and she 
was about him always like a sweet despotism. 

But slowly, as he grew stronger, came the change 
she dreaded. A corselet of reserve drew about him; 
the old subtle reservation again veiled his eyes. He 
spoke often of going. 

On the fourth day the call of a bugle drew her to 
the window, and a troop of cavalry was sweeping into 
the plaza. At its head was young Saunders. Rumours 
of ladrone raids reaching Bacolod had caused the 
sending of a detachment ; it was to garrison Barang 
indefinitely. 

She learned this from Saunders ; for he called that 
evening and together they sat at the bedside of the 
wounded man. She smiled upon the young fellow a 
slightly malicious smile, for he seemed very much 
consoled indeed. Later, as he left her at the head of 
the stairs, he confided that the colonel s niece was 
now at the post, and that she was gee! a queen! 

" Sure you won t? " he asked in smiling apology. 

" Sure I won t," she answered with responsive 
gaiety, but reiteration of intention. 

" Good-night, little mother," he said. 

He came every evening after that, and the man 
propped up on the pillows listened with wonder to 
their light and impersonal prattle. 



328 CAYBIGAN 

The last day came. Early in the morning the 
Maestro called Vincente, and with his help put on 
the khaki, the leather puttees, the belt with its burden 
loose along the thigh. The pony, all saddled, was 
standing outside. He meant to slip out unnoticed. 

But once in the sala a sudden remorse detained him 
in hesitation. For the good of his soul, he knew he 
must not see her. And yet, it seemed black ingrati 
tude, this sneaking departure. His eyes wandered 
over the table with a vague idea of leaving a written 
good-by 

A gliding swish behind him made him turn. She 
stood in the frame of the door, looking at him. She 
was wrapped in a loose gown, mauve-tinted, that 
stopped in a square before reaching the neck. Her 
hair fell in two braids behind her, leaving a haze of 
gold shimmering before the eyes ; and her eyes shone 
through, calm, wondering, and blue. A vestige of 
pure, white sleep still hung about her cloyingly, and 
she was adorable. 

" You are going? " she asked and the words 
floated slowly, as if held back by some indefinable 
regret. 

" Yes," he said ; " I must go back." 

She stood looking slightly past him at something 
very far, into an infinity that was desolate ; her eyes 
widened, purpled. 



THE CONFLUENCE 329 

" I shall be lonely," she said, impersonally, as if 
reading into that distance. 

He started a little. After a while he said, hesi 
tatingly : " The troop are here now ; the lieu 
tenant " 

But she stood there, very still, staring at the 
future, stretching long ahead as the past mirrored, 
the lone, inexorable future reflecting the lone, hard 
past. She moved forward a step, and that step was 
very weary. 

" I shall be lonely," she repeated. 

A tremulous wonder came into his eyes. 

But suddenly she had crumpled upon the long 
wicker chair, her face hidden in her arms, and her 
shoulders began to rise and fall softly. 

He stood there, stupefied, watching the gentle 
swell and ebb, and slowly the wonder in his eyes grew 
to the light ineffable. He moved forward. He touched 
her timidly. 

" Girl ! " he said in awed murmur, as if in the hush 
of a cathedral, " Girl, can it be ! " 

But she remained gently weeping. He took her 
arms and raised her slowly; and they stood before 
each other, their twined hands hanging loose between 
them, their eyes into each other s, gravely reading. 

" Girl ! " he said again, and this time the tone 
held the ecstasy of revelation. 



330 CAYBIGAN 

" Boy ! " she smiled back through the sacred dew 
of her tears. 

He drew her to him, and she wept upon his shoulder 
in sweet abandonment, and his heart swelled within 
him in immense tenderness. 

" Star of my Life ! " he murmured. 



XV 
THE CALL 

told me the thing himself immedi 
ately after it had happened ; and no one has been able 
to get a word of it from him since. At the time he 
was much overwrought; in fact, to an Anglo-Saxon, 
was somewhat of a sight (he has French blood in him, 
and it s apt to crop out when he least expects it) ; 
but if ever I saw Truth manifested, it was in that 
choking, panting, sobbing utterance of the man. 

Delaroche was one of the thousand pedagogues 
which the American government sent to flood these 
benighted isles with the lime light of civilisation. His 
post was Cabancalan. You don t know Cabancalan, 
do you ? Southern part of Negros, twenty miles from 
the mouth of the Hog. I rode through there once 
God, a lonely, desolate place! A thousand tumble 
down nipa shacks, a crumbling church, musty moun 
tains to the east, not a white man within thirty miles, 
and the natives themselves away below the average 
on the edge of savagery. 

Well, Delaroche stood it for six months, then went 
daffy and sent for the girl he loved in the States. 

331 



332 CAYBIGAN 

And she came, the ten thousand miles, and he met her 
in Ilo-Ilo and they were married, and he took her 
across on a prao to her new home God ! 

And then one night, some two months after, she 
began to die. " She began to die." That s the way 
he told it to me. 

As he came back from a ride to one of his barrio 
schools he found her weeping, with her face in her 
pillow. She gently refused to tell him the reason 
(poor little girl, he probably would not have under 
stood !) ; but later she was saying small incoherent 
things, and then he knew she was in a fever. Then 
she began to groan gently with each exhaling breath, 
and a great fear started to gnaw at his heart. 

It was one of these nights when the heat weighs 
upon you like the tomb. The blinds were all raised, 
and strange, incongruous insects flopped in and 
buzzed about the lamp, while outside the beasts of 
humidity vibrated in endless shrill cry; and rhyth- 
ming this clamour, to the man watching there, came 
that low, gentle groaning. And he feared. 

You don t understand. He told me, and I also, 
probably, did not understand. She was a gentle, soft 
creature, made all for love and sacrifice, and with 
something childish in her that drew the hearts of 
men in great tenderness. He was a somewhat gloomy 
fellow, with great asperities in his character and a 



THE CALL 333 

flaming will. He craved for sacrifice, and she gave it 
all to him, and yet with her little baby ways created 
in him the illusion that lie was the protector. 

And now, as he sat beneath the oppression of the 
heated night, by her side, with that continuous, soft 
plaint in his ears, he began to see, he began to 
see, ah, many little things that he should have seen, 
that he had not seen, that, yes, that he had re 
fused to see. 

When he would return from his long rides to far 
barrios after leaving her all day face to face with the 
poignant loneliness of her life, he was wont to pick up 
a book and plunge into it for the evening. Several 
times he had seen tears come to her eyes as he did this, 
and then, with laughing, false, lying surprise, would 
ask her what was the matter, at which she smiled and 
shook her head gently. 

There were many other things like that, but, he 
told me, this was the picture which tortured him in 
endless repetition that night. He saw himself re 
turning from his barrio-ride; he picked up a book 
and read, and then tears started in her eyes. At in 
tervals he raised the mosquito-bar and looked at her 
and spoke to her, a great tenderness in his throat; 
but she did not answer, merely lay with her head on 
her left arm, and softly with each breath came the 
little plaint, patient and submissive, and it tore his 



334 CAYBIGAN 

heart. Then he sat down again at his vigil, with a 
great muffled fear a-pound in his breast, and then 
again he saw the picture: He came back from his 
barrio-ride, picked up a book and read, and tears 
started in her eyes. 

That s how he passed the night. At dawn, a great 
longing to do something took hold of him, and, leav 
ing her, he went out into the pueblo. There was not 
a physician within fifty miles ; it was the rainy season 
and each mile was ten. He knew it, yet he searched 
madly for what he knew he could not find. Finally 
he returned, and as he looked upon her she gripped 
his arm. " Don t, don t," she said, and he burst into 
tears. She had felt his absence. 

Then people, the poor lowly folk of the village, 
began to troop in with many " pobrecitas " and 
pitying exclamations and rude, naive gifts. Among 
them were two little girls who stood awed at the door. 
He remembered them. When his wife had first come 
and they strolled in the evening together, the little 
girls would follow them at a distance; then, encour 
aged by her gracious presence, they had come nearer 
and nearer night after night, till finally she had 
found what they longed for. They wanted to touch 
her hand. And after that the husband and the wife 
had had to steal out on their evening walks ; for, if 
seen by; the little girls, the lady had to give one 



THE CALL 335 

hand to each, leaving the man to follow behind 
alone. 

They were poor, dirty little things, but when they 
stood there, one with a soiled, over-ripe banana, the 
other with a tobacco leaf, that they had probably 
stolen at the market, he stooped down and kissed 
them on the forehead. 

Then he padlocked the door to be alone and took 
his station by the side of the little cot ; and the morn 
ing passed as the night had, and he felt himself 
slowly becoming mad. In the afternoon a thought 
made his heart thump. 

At Sibalay, twenty miles below the mouth of the 
Hog, there was then a post of native constabulary, 
and once every two months a launch from Ilo-Ilo 
came to stock it with provisions. He had made a note 
of the dates the boat was to come. He looked among 
his papers and found it. It was due that very day. 
Since morning, while he sat stupid there, the boat 
had been discharging cargo; that very evening it 
would leave for Ilo-Ilo, and in Ilo-Ilo there were 
Americans, doctors, hospitals, hope! 

And there was still a chance. The boat, in its 
course back to Ilo-Ilo, must cross the mouth of the 
Hog. There might be time to intercept it. 

He ran out of the house and down to the river ; and 
the best he could find after an hour s search were two 



336 CAYBIGAN 

old bancas, mouldy and full of water and each with 
an outrigger broken; but he lashed them together, 
with the remaining outriggers on the outside. Then 
he stormed at the Casa Popular till they gave him the 
town prisoners, a villainous six. He then had his wife 
carried on her cot to the boat, and they started down 
the river. 

From the beginning everything went wrong. He 
had counted upon the swollen river-current ; he found 
that the sea tide was on the flood and backing it up. 
The impressed prisoners were sullen, and after he 
saw that promises of reward had no effect, he made 
them work with his revolver at their backs. The river 
wound interminably, and then another obstacle con 
fronted them. The wind rose, and every time the turn 
of the river made it head on, they had to slow up, for 
the short, choppy waves dashed into the boats, threat 
ening to swamp them. The men grew more defiant, 
and once he was obliged to fire over their heads to 
keep them at their paddles. Thus they went down 
the river, between the high palm-lined banks, the 
boats leaking, the tide purring against them, the 
men straining, with Fear upon them, and he standing 
at the stern, tense as a maniac, feeling Hope slowly 
and inexorably slipping from him. And all the time, 
from the cot at the bottom of the boat, came the soft, 
continuous, patient plaint. 



THE CALL 337 

When they reached the mouth of the river, the surf 
was booming on the bar and they could not cross. It 
was dark, and in the distance a red and a green light 
were passing slowly. 

They paddled back five miles up the river to the 
pueblo of Hog and camped in the deserted convent. 
Toward midnight, White, the constabulary officer, 
came along. He was on his way to Sibalay, but the 
mud had killed his horse and he had had to stop. 

The two men had a conference. Then White 
impressed two carabaos from the presidente and 
started off in a drizzling rain. There was an army 
wagon, with two American horses, at Sibalay, and he 
was going after them. With the wagon, Delaroche 
could perhaps make Pulupondan, sixty miles to the 
north, and catch the little steamer that plied between 
that town and Ilo-Ilo. 

All night Delaroche sat by the bed of his wife, in 
the big, empty, ruined convent. The rain drummed 
fiercely upon the tin roof, giant rats scurried to and 
fro in the darkness, and the night long there came 
from the cot the desolate plaint. Once, toward 
dawn, she started up suddenly and he caught her. 
" Laddie, laddie ! " she cried, with a great joy in her 
voice as she felt his presence. Then she fell back 
into the stupor. 

At noon the wagon came, driven by an old army 



338 CAYBIGAN 

packer, a long lanky Westerner. The cot was placed 
upon it and fastened, and they started. It was in the 
midst of the rainy season ; the roads were bottom 
less, and progress was fearfully slow. Twice, be 
fore reaching Jimamaylan, the wagon dropped 
into a hole and could not be budged. The men went 
out into the fields and captured carabaos, and after 
countless efforts unmired it. At Jimamaylan, fifteen 
miles from the start, the horses were so plainly given 
out that they had to stop. They passed the night 
in the hut of the Presidente. The driver cooked their 
food and Delaroche filled the canteens with boiled 
water for the morrow, for they were on the edge of 
the cholera district. His wife was in the same con 
dition. 

They started early the next morning, but calamities 
began to overtake them. They were mired for an hour 
soon after the start. Then the tree carried away and 
they had to improvise a new one. Near Binalbagan 
the off horse dropped, foundered. They stole cara 
baos from the fields and went on. Darkness over 
took them at Jinagaran, and they had gone only ten 
miles. 

All night long Delaroche listened to the gentle 
wail, and by morning it had grown very weak. And 
then, as the sun rose a few miles from Jinagaran, she 
died. 



THE CALL 339 

" She died." That s the way he said it. 

And the wagon went on with the dead woman, and 
Delaroche kneeling with his head on her pillow, close 
to hers. And after a while he began calling her, first 
softly, with gentle insistence, "Girlie! Girlie!" 
Then louder and louder as she did not answer, in a 
long, agonised cry, " Girlie ! Girlie ! " 

They were going through the cholera district now, 
and they passed deserted barrios with great, white 
crosses painted across the doors and windows of the 
emptied huts; and now and then thin, cadaverous, 
weird beings looked at them pass from caved-in eyes, 
looked at the labouring, sobbing carabaos ; at the 
driver on the seat of the lurching wagon, urging 
with cry and gesture ; at the cot, with its rigid form 
faintly outlined beneath the blankets, and the man 
kneeling by it; and, above the shouts of the driver, 
the panting of the animals, the creaking of the 
wagon, they heard that great ceaseless agonised cry : 

"Girlie! Girlie!" 

All day, and the next, and the next, they went on 
thus, a spectral sight. I asked the driver about it 
later. 

" Yes," he said. " I kept a-going because I knew 
that he just couldn t bury her there. And all that 
day and all night, and all the next day and the next 
night, and the next and the next he just called her 



340 CAYBIGAN 

and called her and called her. I don t want to go 
through another thing like that, you can be sure. 
And she was dead, sir; she was dead, I tell you." 

" But of course, she wasn t, you know she wasn t," 
I said : " You know she must have been alive. What 
makes you think she was dead? " 

" She was dead, sir," he repeated stubbornly. 

And Delaroche, when he told me, that one time his 
lips were unsealed in a burst of hysteria, said the 
same thing. 

" She was dead, Romer," he said ; " she was dead, 
I tell you. But I called her, called her. And I tell 
you I called her back. You see, it was impossible; I 
couldn t let her go like that. I called her back to me, 
called her back, I tell you ! " 



THE END 






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